Weather Stuff Page - Weather and Gauges
There are several things that must be [should be does not work well here] known before heading out on the water SAFELY. The whole list takes a Basic course, here are a few:
Weather Conditions in General. Water conditions in general. Air Temperature, Water Temperature. Are they changing? How will they likely change? How will the change affect my day - driving, paddling, camping, swimming, the way I dress etc.? WIND WAVES WEATHER WATER. Lightening [ neat new info here on lightening] More good Lightening stuff = http://www.outdoored.com/Community/wikis/articles/lightning-hazards-amp-safety.aspx
RIVER LEVELS National Weather Service - Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center and what those levels mean to paddlers. River levels mean different things to an Open Boater, Rec Kayak and a C-1 /river Kayaker. How are levels changing? How fast? http://water.usgs.gov/realtime.html National River data map.
Potomac at little falls Gauge Generally 5 feet on the Little Falls gauge [LF]. is considered caution / dangerous for boaters in the Great to little falls area. It's deceptive. For open boaters at Little Falls, a class 3ish level is about 3 feet on the LF gauge. At 5 feet on the gauge it jumps at least a class - maybe 2 classes. A paddler must know how the gauge affects each section of the river. At the Brookmont Dam, Where the gauge is located, the river is about 1500+/- feet wide, at little falls it's about 60feet. A tiny change at the gauge can mean a huge difference where the river is constricted. As much as 25Xs.
Potomac at Harpers Ferry Gauge [link is down @ march 09] Needles area - in general the needles area is a class 2 - 2+ at normal levels. [around 3 to 3.5 feet on the Harpers Ferry Gauge] The MCC folks suggest using the Hancock gauge where low water is about 3, medium 4 and at 4.5 to 5 feet the needles features start to wash out and the lower part where the Shenandoah joins the Potomac gets pretty big. Again you kinda have to know the Area or ask someone who really knows.
Shenandoah at Millville Gauge at 1.5 and up, the staircase is a class 2/3 run. It starts to change and get pushy around 3.5 where the river has the same CFS as a Gauley release; and at 6 feet looks more like a 3/4 river where swims can be long and ugly and the run ends in an Angry Potomac. It's a good idea to check the Potomac whenever you run the Shenandoah Staircase since that's where you end up.
Antietam Creek at
Burnside Bridge Gauge [sometimes referred to as "the
Sharpsburg gauge] another gauge for the same creek
AW GAUGE - Lower
Creek is a Class 1ish rec-boat run from 2.5 up to about 3.5. AT 4.0 it
starts to take on a class 2 look. at 5 to 6 feet [about 1800 - 2800 CFS] the creek picks up speed,
and becomes an honest WW outfitted boat run for intermediate paddlers, drops and
bends are more pushy and there is a real danger of
strainers that are difficult to avoid [strainers are on the creek at all
levels] and the creek is out of it's banks in low areas. At 7-8 feet it is in
flood and probably should be avoided.
River Gauges in general American Whitewater has a lot of information here about the above gauges, descriptions of runs etc. It's also a great Org with a great Magazine. Think about joining up.
GMP/T&E SYS INK.