Monday, March 20, 2023

Boaters urged to use ‘extreme caution’ on rivers this weekend

James River (WYDaily/File photo)
James River (WYDaily/File photo)

Heat and unstable weather conditions may lead to dangerous boating conditions on Virginia’s rivers this weekend.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officials are warning recreational boaters to use extreme caution while boating this weekend because of the risk of flash flooding.

VDGIF Conservation Police officers have worked several incidents in the past where boaters have either died or been injured after attempting to navigate waters affected by heavy rain, the department said in a news release.

When heavy rains occur, rivers can have significantly higher than usual water levels, and trash and other debris can float on the surface or just below the water line.

“Disregarding safety messages and attempting to boat on rising or flooded waters not only puts the boaters at risk, but also our CPOs and other first responders that are called to rescue them,” said Maj. Scott Naff of the VDGIF Conservation Police.

Naff also recommends boaters check for safety warnings and other water conditions before launching their boats on the river.

After several inches of rain in recent weeks, the ground is already saturated with water and some rivers are already at high levels, the department said. These factors can lead to fast changes on the water.

Here is a list of boating tips from the VDGIF:

  • Think before you go: Always check local river conditions. A resource for this is the American Whitewater website.
  • Check your local forecast. Pop-up storms can cause flash flooding and water levels can change drastically and quickly.
  • Be aware that high water can force some boat ramps to temporarily close.
  • Have a good plan and share your plan with someone who knows where you will be and when to expect you to return.
  • Have the proper equipment onboard and wear a properly-sized and fitted life jacket.
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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