SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California rivers fed by this winter’s massive Sierra Nevada snowpack have been turned into deadly torrents, drawing warnings from public safety officials ahead of the Memorial Day weekend’s traditional start of outdoor summer recreation.
At least seven people, including two children, have died or gone missing this spring in the grasp of powerful rivers plunging down from California’s towering mountain range, and there have been numerous rescues.
“This year we’re seeing higher water, faster water and colder water,” said Capt. Justin Sylvia, a fire spokesperson in Sacramento, which is crossed by the American River.
Sacramento has already had 20 water rescues this year, nearly as many as all of 2022, Sylvia said Tuesday as crews practiced swift-water rescues on the lower American River near its confluence with the Sacramento River.
Memorial Day weekend is typically one of the busiest, if not the busiest, times of the year, and “floating down the American River is like a quintessential Sacramento activity,” said Ken Casparis, spokesperson for Sacramento County regional parks.