by Guinne Stropes
Mail Staff Writer
Warm weather and steady precipitation are the culprits for this year’s high water in the Arkansas River, and both are expected to continue this week.
According to the National Weather Service, the rest of the week will bring both sunny and rainy days.
A 20 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms is forecast after 3 p.m. today, with about the same chance of storms Thursday.
Thursday is also predicted to have the highest temperature of the week, about 81 degrees.
The weather service reports that high temperatures cause faster snowmelt, which in turn causes higher water and can potentially result in localized flooding.
The chance for storms increases to 30 percent Friday, 60 percent Saturday and 50 percent Sunday with temperatures in the mid to upper 70s.
All the rain along with melting snow means the Arkansas River will continue to run high and fast; Salida’s cfs was at 3,410 Tuesday.
Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Park Manager Rob White called this year a high water year for Salida.
“Whenever you get above 3,000 to 4,000 cfs in Salida, that’s a high water year,” White said.
High water years have different challenges and consequences for water sport participants and spectators.
This year, FIBArk events like the Hooligan Race were canceled for safety reasons due to the high water.
Travis Hocherd, general manager of River Runners Inc. in Salida, said this year’s water is higher than he’s seen in past years, and the rafting company makes certain changes in instances of high water.
For example, he said guided tours aren’t available on parts of the river labeled with a High Water Advisory from the AHRA.
“Right now is a great time to go for an exciting adventure. And the Arkansas has 30 different launch points, so there’s lots of options for various experience levels,” Hocherd said.
White advised going with a rafting company on the river this year.
If not exploring with a guide, he said, make sure “you have proper equipment, whether that be wet suits, dry suits, life jackets or whatever, and a good understanding of that part of the river.”