Warming temperatures means growing danger on Valley rivers

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's only April, but at Hagaman Park, the Merced River is already moving swiftly.

Families say they're still haunted by what happened here last year.

Last June, a child swimming in the river was swept away. Her father jumped in to save her and drowned.

Mike North with the Merced County Sheriff's Office says they do not want the same tragedy to play out again.

"When somebody goes out and puts a $2 raft in the river and they get stuck, what happens? The Sheriff's Office has to come out and that puts them in danger."

Currently, the Merced River is flowing at 4,000 cubic feet per second.

Officials say that number will only climb, as melting snow and storm runoff produce even more dangerous currents.

"Some people do get in the water, but I would not let my kids get in the water, the current's pretty strong right now, just from the debris, it's really unsafe," said Daniel Castro of Livingston.

"The river can look very inviting with that nice fresh water, people need to understand that's very cold water moving very fast, and you get in trouble real quick," said North.

Although the Valley has seen below average rainfall, late storms have brought significant snowpack to the Foothills.

Another weather system this weekend -- will add to the river's strength.
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