Stay safe on the water as temperatures begin to rise - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Stay safe on the water as temperatures begin to rise

Posted: Updated:

 KENNEWICK, WA - With temperatures into the 90s this week, many of us are trying to get out on the water. But be warned, the water isn't nearly as warm as the fact, it's much colder. And it's moving fast because of late season snowfall. 

Reporter Rex Carlin learned that the speed and flow of the water in the river isn't as big of a deal here in the Columbia because of dams and the Corps of Engineers' work on the river. But Columbia Basin Dive Rescue says right now, unless you're an expert, the Yakima River is too dangerous.

Scott Ruppelius of Columbia Basin Dive Rescue told him that the melt from the late winter snowfall has the Yakima River moving at a speed that's not safe for floating or swimming.

"Right now, the Yakima's moving very quickly," Ruppelius said. "So, unless you're kind of experienced in canoe or kayak or what not, you probably don't want to be on an inner tube or just swimming because it's moving pretty quick."

The other concern heading into this Memorial Day weekend is the temperature in the water...not what someone might expect when facing a 90-plus degree day.

"Right now, the surface water is still pretty cold," said Ruppelius. "You get hypothermia fairly easily, even in the summer. That just means it cools down your core body temperature fairly quickly. And then when that happens you move slower and you end up not being able to swim and you can drown fairly easily."

Ruppelius says swimming and boating are definitely okay in these conditions, but when water is this cold, he says it's important to stay within range of the shore or boat if you're swimming so you can make sure you don't get too cold to swim to safety.

And again, water temperature right now in the Columbia is in the fifties and it's not going to significantly increase before this Memorial Day weekend. Do take those extra precautions before going out on the river this weekend.