Weather News

‘Fast and cold’ water: Here are two safety reminders as Sacramento heats up in June

As Sacramento returns to high temperatures near 90 degrees this weekend, officials are warning that water temperatures at Northern California’s most popular rivers still remain well below summertime warmth.

Rain has departed after the wettest May on record in the capital region, and below-average temperatures are leaving as well. After a high of 82 degrees on Thursday, National Weather Service forecasts show Sacramento should reach 88 on Friday, 90 by Saturday and 92 by Monday.

Especially in contrast with cloudy, showery weather seen in recent weeks, these temperatures may seem ideal for summer fun at local lakes and rivers. But NWS Sacramento in a Wednesday tweet said are waterways “are running extremely fast & cold,” urging the use of life jackets for those who do decide to hit the water.

Experts with NWS warn that water temperatures below 60 degrees are “very dangerous,” especially without a life vest. Submersion in water that cold for more than a couple of minutes can restrict limb motion, and make it very difficult to regain breath once it’s lost, NWS has warned. Hypothermia is also a risk.

U.S. Geological Survey data show that the American River in Fair Oaks has ranged from 53 to 56 degrees in the past week. Measurements taken Tuesday by NWS indicated water temperatures were colder than 60 degrees at many spots along the Sacramento, American and Stanislaus rivers, as well as near Folsom Dam.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office, which performs frequent swift water rescues on the American River’s rocky north fork, has in recent social media posts encouraged recreational rafters to stay out of the river until “after June,” when flows are calmer and the water is cooler.

‘Look before you lock’

In another set of public service announcements circulating this week, NWS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are urging drivers against leaving children and pets inside hot cars.

An infographic posted by the two agencies claims that on an 80-degree day, the inside of a vehicle can approach 100 degrees within 10 minutes, 109 degrees within 20 minutes and 123 degrees within an hour.

National Weather Service
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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.