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Waterways are running very cold and fast: Here's how to stay safe

Water temperatures are hovering in the 50s across the greater Sacramento area, which is cold enough to be deadly

SACRAMENTO, Calif — The waterways will beckon many due to another hot weekend on tap, but officials are warning the public of the dangers of swimming in rivers, creeks, and streams this time of year.

A 'blocking high' is at fault for the hot weather that has stuck around, and it will continue to stick around, through early next week. Upper 80s and lower 90s are expected in the Central Valley through Monday.

Rivers, creeks and streams are running very fast and cold as the record snowpack melt and makes its way down the Sierra.

NWS Sacramento recommends staying out of all waterways due to the inherent dangers associated with frigid, fast waters.

Water temperatures across the region are generally in the 50s and 60s and into the lower 40s at Lake Tahoe. Flows are also much above average, creating hazardous conditions. The map below shows up to date water temperatures across the state.

Credit: ABC10
Water temperatures are still running very cold across Northern California

"Warm air doesn’t always mean warm water in lakes, streams or oceans. Fifty five degree water may not sound very cold, but it can be deadly," said the National Weather Service, "When your body hits cold water, 'cold shock' can cause dramatic changes in breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. The sudden gasp and rapid breathing alone creates a greater risk of drowning even for confident swimmers in calm waters."

The Department of Water Resources has 10 tips to keep in mind this summer as you head out to take a dip:

  1. Learn to swim.
  2. Swim with a buddy.
  3. Wear your life jacket.
  4. Obey all hazard signs.
  5. Swim in safe or designated areas only and by a lifeguard.
  6. Beware of drop-offs into deep water.
  7. Watch for hidden debris, rapid currents, and slippery rocks.
  8. Look before you leap or dive.
  9. Know your limits
  10.  Don’t mix drinking with recreation.


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