California’s winter snowpack brings dangerous rushing rivers this summer

California’s winter snowpack brings dangerous rushing rivers this summer

A sign warning the public of dangerous river conditions is displayed along the American River in Sacramento, California, May 23, 2023.
Photo: Daley Harbor (PA)

A series of back-to-back blizzards brought a lot of snowfall to the California mountains this winter. And now all that snow is finally melting and filling the state’s rivers. It makes them bigger, faster, cooler, and extremely dangerous to swim.

State security officials are concerned about upcoming recreational activities surrounding this Memorial Day weekend. Concerns especially arise after the city of Sacramento has already seen 20 water rescues this year, the Associated Press reported. It’s the same thing number of rescues the city has seen throughout 2022.

Other parts of the state have experienced accidents this year too. In late April, a man was swept into the American River in Auburn, California after he jumped with friends. It has not yet been found, SFGATE reported. And earlier in May, another man disappeared after wading in the Tule River near the Sierra foothills on a flotation device.

In response, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services issued a safety reminder this Thursday, warning anyone going to visit rivers or state parks this weekend. park goers they were told to be aware of their surroundings and to seek road and river conditions before heading to an outdoor recreation area. “Many parks and hiking trails have nearby lakes or rivers. Conditions could change quickly and it is important to be prepared,” the warning reads.

Earlier this year, officials measured some of the highest snowfalls ever recorded in the state’s Sierra Nevada mountains. During an investigation in early April, they found more than 120 inches of accumulated snow. It was a welcome change because so many of the state’s lakes, rivers and reservoirs rely on snowmelt each year to replenish water. And the snow this year has actually helped raise water levels in major waterways like Lake Shasta. Winter storms and snowpack eased the severe drought California experienced last year. The state experiences almost no dry conditions, according to the American Drought Monitor.

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