Heading to Russian River this weekend? Officials say beware of strong current

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Friday, May 12, 2023
Heading to Russian River this weekend? Officials say use caution
Planning to visit Russian River for Mother's Day weekend? Officials are warning visitors to use caution as the water flow rate is much higher.

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Temperatures are expected to rise this Mother's Day weekend, and Sonoma County officials are urging caution as they expect swells along the Sonoma Coast. They say along the Russian River, water flows are now faster than what we usually see in the summer due to our recent wet weather.

Pure beauty in Guerneville but don't be fooled this weekend - the Russian River is flowing.

"Way faster current and a lot more water," said Andrew Liput with Johnson's Beach Rentals.

The river's flow rate at the Hacienda Bridge is 450% higher than just a year ago, according to the county.

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"Huge difference. By the start of our season which is end of May, sometimes it's only knee and ankle deep and this time, it's waist deep," said Liput.

A reason why county officials are urging caution this weekend as temperatures rise. Hoping river goers will use lifejackets and keep their kids within an arm's reach.

"If this is the first time folks are getting in the water after the winter, maybe your ability to swim is a little rustier than it is in the summer and we're not looking at lazy river conditions," said Stuart Tiffen who works for Sonoma County.

Water flow isn't the only concern. Here in the Russian River the water remains cold, between 50 and 60 degrees.

"It's chilly, you hit the water and it's a shock," said Carter Easler who is visiting from Canada with Bryanna Petrie.

"Cold isn't too scary, cold water if you know how to breath, you know you're good to go. We've been doing our ice baths here. It is like ice. It's snow melt right?" said Easler and Petrie.

"When you get in, as soon as it hits your chest, it takes your breath away, just the cold," said Deanna Terrian of Guerneville.

So while this may be the perfect weekend to be outside, beware if you're planning on going swimming or boating.

Sonoma County issued this press release in part:

"We want everyone to have fun and stay safe if visiting the river or coast beaches this holiday weekend," said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker. "When in and around water, it's crucial to take the necessary precautions, such as keeping a close eye on children, wearing a life jacket while swimming, boating or floating, and never turn your back on the ocean. Have fun, be safe and recreate responsibly."

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