Bill gives us the latest on the flow regime of the South Fork American River near Sacramento, California.
SOUTH FORK FLOW PROJECTIONS JUNE 14 2011
By Bill Center
"It looks like we may avoid any significant periods of flows above 7000 cfs, and possibly even much time above 6000 cfs. The flow pattern we have seen over the past week or so could well hold through June and as long as mid July. At the current melt rate Union Valley will not fill to 260,500 AF until the last week of June. This is the volume (elevation 4868) where they open their spillway gates, putting somewhere between 1000 and 2000 additional cfs down the river. It appears unlikely that Ice House will spill. In the meantime the South Fork at Kyburz appears close to peaking, and flows on it over the next week to ten days will likely drop below 2000cfs. By late June the area of melting snow will have significantly reduced, though there will still be substantial volume above 8000 feet. What all this means is that we are in the middle of a prolonged non-peaky flow regime, and if/when Union Valley spills the South Fork natural flows will have dropped enough to keep the Chili Bar flow from getting much higher than it's been.
What could change this is a couple of things. If we get a week of hot - close to 100 degree - weather, stuff will go off faster and we could get a couple of thousand cfs surge. Also, on a day to day period, SMUD is still peaking White Rock, and will likely continue to, resulting in a spiky Slab Creek reach flow and about a 1500 cfs variation in Chili Bar flows. So we could see flows occasionally jump above 6000 or even approach 7000 if the average flow reaches 5500. Right now the average flow is around 4500. These spikes can be avoided - or selected - by watching the flows and adjusting what time and section you are on the river. They tend to last only a couple of hours at most, and tend to be in the early morning right now, caused by both the diurnal melt pattern and low power demand in the very early morning hours.
We will likely see periodic flows of 3500 cfs well into and possibly even through August, especially on warm week-day afternoons. On the low end, sometime in mid to late July, we will likely see our first drops to around 500 cfs, probably on weekend nights."
This is indeed good news for the general public who loves the South Fork American with the same passion as we do. WET River Trips will pull the plug on any river that is running at dangerous level. But, this news is welcoming as we usually cancel trips above 10,000 cfs on this river.
The weather is hot. The flows are awesome. Come on out for a ride like no other... whitewater rafting in California is the best NOW!
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All photos by WET River Trips in Flickr and uploaded by WET River Trips blogging staff. Letter and information by Bill Center and offered for public use for the whitewater rafting industry on South Fork American River in California.