The Friday morning United States Geological Survey stream gauges are reporting water levels on a slight rise as a result of runoff from rainfall received over the last 36 hours within the Illinois River basin, according to Ed Fite, Grand River Dam Authority vice president for rivers operations and water quality.
For this weekend, water levels will be approximately 3-6 inches higher than last weekend, with flows 2 1/2 times greater than normal.
Temperatures will be cooler, with highs in the upper 80s. Wind directions are predicted to be from the north-northwest at speeds of 5-10 mph, with occasional gusts of up to 15 mph.
There is a slight chance for additional rainfall throughout the weekend, said Fite. On Sunday, there is a 20-percent chance for “pop-up” thunderstorms.
“Overall, conditions will be good for fishing, floating, and swimming. Always stay alert and be prepared for changing weather conditions,” said Fite. “Please consult with your commercial flotation device operator before launching on a float trip for the most up-to-date river and weather conditions.”
Floaters and swimmers are encouraged to wear life jackets while out on the water. It is recommended that adults and children lacking paddling skills be paired with experienced paddlers/floaters utilizing rafts.
Fite offered some important water recreation considerations:
• Wear life preservers, protective footwear and other suitable clothing.
• Never swim or boat alone. Stay within sight of companions.
• Use suntan lotion, wear sunglasses and a hat.
• Pack thirst-quenching drinks like water and lemonade. Alcohol impairs judgment.
• Tie on food and extra clothing in a watertight container.
• Glass and Styrofoam containers are prohibited.
• Don’t tie canoes, kayaks and rafts together.
• Respect the rights of other floaters, fishermen and private property owners.
• Pack out all trash. Recycle empty water bottles and other beverage containers.
• Never take anything along on a float trip that you wouldn’t want to lose. Check vehicle keys in with the commercial float operation used for safe keeping.
• Boaters should inform family members or others what stream reach you’re floating and
when you plan to return.
• Floaters beware, a number of flood events have occurred since the last float season. Fallen trees and debris may have accumulated in turns and runs that may pose navigational hazards.
• If in doubt about the stream reach to be traveled, stop and get out on land to scout a safe pathway to use to float through, around meanders and other areas where debris and fallen trees present strainers that let water pass through yet will trap and hold a boat/swimmer. In areas with swift water, portage the boat around navigational hazards.
• Adhere to COVID-19 guidance from Oklahoma State Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when enjoying Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Areas.