New dangers in area rivers after wild winter

Wild winter creates new hazard in rivers

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A warning for anyone heading to the rivers this weekend or on Memorial Day weekend: They not only look a lot different than they normally would this time of year, the current is also much stronger.

It just takes a boatride out to Government Island in the Columbia River to see the problems. Beaches that would normally be packed with weekend campers and boaters are not even there.

The river level is still so high, those beaches are all underwater.

With no beaches to play on, Multnomah County River Patrol worries people will try and play in the water instead.

They say that's a  problem for a couple reasons: For one, the water is about 50 degrees right now, about ten degrees colder than what it normally should be this time of year.

"It's just a little bit warmer, about ten degrees warmer, than it was for Polar Plunge, back in February," said Lt. Mark Shrake with Multnomah County Sheriff's River Patrol.

Another concern is the current. It is moving deceptively fast.

According to Shrake, the river is moving about five times faster than it normally would in mid-May.

That means a quick jump in the river to cool off could not only shock your system, it could also send you downstream in a matter of seconds.

Because of the lack of beaches, power boaters will likely move into areas traditionally used by  paddle boarders and kayakers, which raises another safety concern.

Lt. Shrake says once the weather warms up, there will be increased patrols out on the water. They'll be looking for intoxicated boaters.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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