Merced and San Joaquin Rivers closed for recreational use as flood concerns grow

The National Weather Service expects the Merced River to reach flood stage at 71 feet by Saturday morning.

Saturday, April 15, 2023
Merced and San Joaquin Rivers closed for recreational use as flood concerns grow
Sheriff Vern Warnke announced recreational use of the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers will not be allowed until further notice.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A flood warning has been issued in Merced County as the Merced River continues to rise.

The National Weather Service expects it to reach flood stage at 71 feet by Saturday morning.

Thursday night, Sheriff Vern Warnke announced recreational use of the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers will not be allowed until further notice.

Recent storms have increased the amount of water in the rivers creating fast-moving conditions.

Authorities say the rivers raise safety concerns for anyone that gets in the water, which includes first responders.

"It's dangerous," Warnke said in a video. "I've got a dive team, and they don't need to be out there risking their lives to save somebody that should have not been in the water in the first place."

The sheriff encourages people looking to cool off to enjoy safer waterways such as a pool or a lake.

County officials say those who ignore the river closure will face citations and fines.

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