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PORTLAND -- Anyone headed out onto the Columbia River this weekend should be careful that already low river levels are likely to drop dramatically.

The water levels are already unusually low for this time of year due to of the lack of rain this summer, but river patrol deputies expect things will get dramatically worse by this weekend.

This Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will start storing water in storage dams upriver for a variety of reasons including winter power generation. As a result, the Columbia River could drop as much as four feet by Monday. Boaters could be left high and dry in some areas of the river or worse.

Where they normally go skiing or inter-tubing and drive at high speeds, they're going to hit the sandbars that are now only a foot to two feet under the water and they re going to get people launched forward in the boat and people get hurt, said Deputy Scott McDowell with the Multnomah County Sheriff s Office.

Deputies said with this being the last weekend before a lot of kids go back to school as well as a holiday weekend, they expect to be very busy.

They're warning all boaters to stick to the main channel of the Columbia and go slow.

The Corps says until we get into the rainy season, the river level will likely fluctuate.

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