Snowpack and flow updates were presented yesterday to the South Fork American outfitters by a joint meeting of agencies that included El Dorado County, California State Parks and Bureau of Land Management. Flow predictions and safety issues were addressed for California's rafting industry. Some outfitters sent representatives while other companies were represented by the actual owners; Steve Liles of W.E.T. River Trips, Norm Schoenhoff of Whitewater Excitement and Scott Armstrong of AllOutdoors were participants of this discussion. Safety in numbers ie. travel in groups, extra gear such as "cold kit" for addressing hypothermia, safety kayakers and/or safety oarboat escorts, and minimum age requirements for youth participation were addressed by each outfitter or representativel.
A handout was presented outlining historical averages and predictions based on water content of the snow pack. Here is a brief outline of what was presented and a "prediction" of what's to come.
2006 Flow Predictions (click here for the chart/table)
Keep in mind that other factors weigh in such as future storms, high day and evening temperatures, etc. Also, each river has its own set of parameters and variables. You can run 10,000 cfs on the South Fork American, but you can't do that on the North Fork American. You can run low flows on the Tuolumne in late summer, but you can't do that on the Kaweah. Call the outfitter and ask about flows. Most of the long time outfitters in the state have a good instinct about what their rivers will flow based on past experiences. Just ask, discuss and this year, make sure that the athletic paddlers are participating during the early season high flows. Have lesser athletic users paddle during mid-June, July, Aug, Sept & Oct. AND for all you high water, big water junkies; get your splash on now!