High Mountain Snowpack Creating Potentially Dangerous Conditions

Jul 20, 2017

Sheeps Creek rapid on Snake River.
Credit Sam Beebe/Ecotrust / Wikimedia Commons

High mountain snowpack this year means potentially dangerous conditions for rafters, boaters, and kayakers on Wyoming’s lakes and rivers.

Earlier this month a man died on the Snake River after falling out of a raft, and in June a kayak guide was killed after attempting to rescue a member of his group that had capsized in Yellowstone Lake.

Melting snow is making rivers run fast and cold, and on the Snake River in northwest Wyoming that isn’t the only concern.

“We have a lot dirtier water. It’s very muddy and hard to see through which makes navigating the river a little more challenging,” said Jess King, the coordinator for the Teton County Search and Rescue.

King said that even though there have been accidents that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t go out and have fun, but wearing a personal flotation device on the water is crucial.

“That’s your number one lifesaver right there. Second to that is having warm clothing on. The water is so cold that it really does take your breath away, it’s so cold. So those two pieces of safety gear are really essential,” King said.

Other than that, King recommended wearing a helmet in rough waters, being properly trained on safety, and checking weather and water conditions on the USGS website before heading out. If you do fall out, King said to try and stay calm, get back in the boat if you can, and if not try your best to swim to shore.