Experts warn of swift, cold waters after snowpack runoff, spring thunderstorms

Posted at 7:29 PM, May 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-02 15:24:14-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Watersheds in northern Utah have reached their peaks as the last of the snowpack runoff hit rivers and streams in conjunction with the unusual number of spring thunderstorms.

The result has brought dangerously cold and swift waters.

With the unofficial start of summer, more Utahns will explore the great outdoors. But experts warn northern Utah's streams and rivers are extremely dangerous this time of year.

“They look beautiful they look absolutely enticing, especially to children, but I don't think people realize how quickly that water moves how unrelenting it is, how forceful it is and how cold it is,” said Capt. Kyle Lavender with the Swift Water Rescue Team.

Even though watershed is well below average this year, Lavender said, the water danger is as high as ever.

“For the past couple of years we've had at least one fatality. Every year where a child just for a second wanders away from mom and dad they see the river it looks enticing they reach to grab something they're in the water and they're gone they're gone in 30 seconds,” Lavender said.

With the fast moving, near freezing and high rising waters hypothermia can set in as little as two minutes.

“It's not a matter of if -- it's a matter of how long you're in the water and how long until your body gives out,” Lavender said.

For now, Lavender said, stay out of the waters.

“Once you're in the water it's just unrelenting. You can't out swim it, you're not stronger than it, it will push you downstream. It's a matter of how far before you can find a way to get to the shore but it will win -- the water will definitely win,” Lavender said.

Know conditions before you go. You can check water temperature, flow and rise here