Another in a series of very heavy rain events has caused many streams and rivers in Vermont and Northern New York to swell to abnormally high levels and present inherent dangers. Although water levels will slowly recede into this weekend, water levels and more importantly flows and currents will be too dangerous for many recreational activities.
In a recent News Advisory…Vermont Health Department officials and a new advisory group urged caution due to water levels that were high and currents that were fast across Vermont.
Ken Schatz is a member of an advisory group working with the department on swimming hole safety: "Because there has been record rainfall in May, that some swimming holes have water that’s really high and fast right now and that can be very dangerous. And so while swimming holes can be great fun, we want people to have some caution with respect to swimming there right now," he said.
The Vermont Health Department says nearly 100 drowning deaths have occurred in natural settings like lakes and rivers in Vermont since 1985, including at six popular swimming holes. The most dangerous places have been Huntington Gorge, with 15 deaths and Cobb Brook in Jamaica where 12 people have reportedly drowned. Also of concern are the Bolton Potholes, Dog’s Head Falls in Johnson, Twin Falls in Saxton’s River, Hamilton Falls in Westminster and the New Haven River in Bristol.
Therefore, The National Weather Service as well as Public Safety officials in Vermont and New York want to remind residents and tourists of the potential DANGERS that still remain in recreational waterways.
1) Natural swimming holes will continue to exhibit high flows and DANGEROUS currents. These recreational spots should be closely monitored or avoided all together.
2) If interested in venturing onto area rivers (swimming, fishing, kayaking, rafting or canoeing)…higher than normal flows and fast currents will continue for several more days. Please closely monitor conditions and if it looks “threatening or questionable”, please AVOID altogether.
3) Swollen rivers have brought debris (large branches/trees) into Lake Champlain. Floating debris can bring dangers to all recreational water vehicles and swimmers alike. In addition, the lake level has risen from 96 feet in mid-May to forecast over 99 feet this weekend and beyond. These higher lake levels may possibly affect docks and boat “clearance” under bridges. Please take the necessary precautions.
4) Water temperatures for Lake Champlain and other bodies of water are ONLY in the 50s. Hypothermia issues can easily arise. http://www.weather.gov/btv/coldwater_awareness
5) Although not a waterway…hiking trails, especially in the mountains will be muddy and very treacherous for the next few days. Please check local hiking clubs, as well as the Green Mountain Club in Vermont (http://www.greenmountainclub.org/) and the Adirondack Mountain Club in New York (http://www.adk.org) for more information.
ALWAYS…Before and during ANY outdoor activity, please monitor the latest forecasts from NWS Burlington or other local weather sources.
For more information and forecasts - visit us at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/btv/
Other links –
Vermont Health Department – http://healthvermont.gov/
VT Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security - http://vem.vermont.gov/
NWS Burlington Lake Champlain Forecast – http://www.erh.noaa.gov/btv/html/lake.php
NWS Burlington Mountain Forecast - http://www.erh.noaa.gov/btv/mountain/
National Safe Boating Week campaign - http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com/