Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Burlington, VT
NOUS41 KBTV 140747
Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Burlington VT
347 AM EDT Fri Apr 14 2017
...THE HAZARD OF COLD WATER BOATING...
The National Weather Service /NWS/ in Burlington, Vermont urges
extreme caution when boating, canoeing, or kayaking during the
spring when water temperatures remain dangerous cold in the event
of a capsize.
After a long North Country winter, thoughts naturally turn toward
warm weather recreational activities. These first warm days of
spring often attract boaters and other recreational enthusiasts to
the many beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams across Vermont and
northern New York.
Those venturing out on area lakes and rivers need to be aware of the
dangers posed by low water temperatures and high water flows. On
pleasantly warm and dry days in April and May...It is easy to
overlook the fact that the temperature of the water is much slower
to respond to the change of season and warms much more slowly than
the air temperature. Rivers are still affected by runoff from
melting snow from mountain summits. Lakes continue to upwell cold
water from below until a temperature of 39 degrees
Fahrenheit, and then increase in temperature slowly based on
amount and days of sunshine, near surface air temperature, and
the size of the body of water. On Lake Champlain, climate records
indicate that surface water temperatures are typically in the
upper 30s in late april, and only rise into the 40s during may.
As of April 14th, the Lake Champlain water temperature at
Colchester Reef was only 37 degrees. Also, high river levels and
fast flows owing to spring snowmelt and recent rainfall make
rivers extremely hazardous to navigate.
Immersion in cold water can become life threatening very quickly.
Should your craft capsize, hypothermia in waters with
temperatures in the upper 30s and 40s can occur in just a matter
of minutes. Because water conducts body heat away 26 times faster
than air of the same temperature, the cold water rapidly causes
extremities to become numb, weakening the ability of muscles to
work effectively. Tragically, several individuals have lost their
lives on North Country rivers and lakes in recent years, drowning
in the very low water temperatures of April and early May.
The NWS urges the following safety measures to protect yourself and
maximize your enjoyment of area waterways:
* Consider postponing small craft boating activities until water
temperatures become warmer in late spring and summer.
* If you do choose to boat, canoe, or kayak in April, wear a dry
suit appropriate for water temperatures in the 30s.
* Wear all recommended protective gear to guard against the cold
water in the event of an accident or capsize.
Remember, no matter the season, when you are on the water always
wear your life jacket.
Safe boating is no accident! Please take the time to think safety
first and plan appropriately for weather and water conditions before
heading out on lakes, rivers, and streams.