DENVER (KDVR) — Experts say waterways across Colorado could be higher and faster this spring and summer.
Many factors could make rivers and waterways around the state much more dangerous. Chief among them is the fact that snowpack is at 139%.
When snow melts, it can make rivers much more treacherous for kayakers.
“With the snowpack being what it is, we are expecting to see higher waters than we’ve seen in the last few years,” JD Chism, with the Denver Fire Department, said.
More snow means more water when warmer weather starts melting it, making our rivers deeper and faster-moving. Chism said drier years from before could have as much of an impact.
“Since we haven’t had such great water for the last couple of years the new debris is being pushed into that river,” Chism said.
That debris, combined with deeper water, could make kayaking much more dangerous.
Kayakers, prepare for a difficult river
At Confluence Kayaks, a kayak store in Denver, expert kayakers are preparing for what they say could be a bumpy season.
“People need to be prepared for a river to be more difficult than it was at lower water,” Jon Kahn, owner of Confluence Kayaks, said.
As rivers rise, they’re encouraging folks, from experts to beginners, to go into the season with the right gear.
“The vast majority of boating fatalities are people that are not wearing life jackets,” Kahn said.
With more debris in the water, strainers could make your outdoor adventure dangerous.
Kayakers could find themselves trapped in a strainer — that is, a debris obstruction in the waterway — and in deeper water. That’s trouble.
“Because it’s one of those things that we have to get people out before we get to the strainer because it’s so much more difficult to get anybody out of the water, including ourselves,” Chism said.
Water rescues take toll on fire crews
Denver Fire said they’re ready for the mission, but it does take a toll on their fire coverage.
“Whenever we have something like that we like to empty our resources because it’s such a dynamic situation,” Chism said.
Multiple crews are set up at multiple points during any rescue, spreading their coverage thin.
Experts say the more you plan for your kayaking trip, the safer you’ll be on your trip. Plan your route, plan where you’ll get in and out of the water and don’t navigate a river outside of your experience level.