Thursday, May 21, 2015

The season's future is now for California kayakers

Blue heron watches kayakers Wednesday at the San Juan Rapids, American River
It sure didn't seem like a major drought on the lower American River this week. Flows that had been running around knee-level (500 cubic feet per second, or cfs) suddenly jumped to more than 1,500 cfs. That made for some fun kayaking at the San Juan Rapids.

The question is, how long will the good times roll on our rivers and lakes? Answers seem murkier than the water in the Delta. NorCal Yak couldn't find any single water agency that could provide statewide projections. But in general, these links may help flat water kayakers plan ahead. Just don't wait too long.

The California Data Exchange probably keeps the most extensive river and reservoir storage and release info. For example, there's a neat graphic page link with current and historical reservoir averages.  The feds also have some info. Check the Bureau of Reclamation site and then focus on the Central Valley sub-pages, though the info is a bit dense. If you're a whitewater enthusiast, water releases on selected river runs are actually scheduled for the rest of the season -- see NorCal Yak pal Paul McHugh's article in The Sacramento Bee.

My fave source for current (no pun) river flow data is the Dreamflows California page. But the bottom line for any California kayaker this year? The future is now, so go for it.