Washington Severe Watches & Warnings NOAA Weather Radio

Public Information Statement
Statement as of 5:00 am EDT on May 12, 2014

... 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 early to mid 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 often 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 may 6th...
the Lake Champlain water temperature at the King Street Ferry dock
in Burlington was only 41 degrees. It should also be noted that High
River levels and fast flows owing to Spring snowmelt and recent
rainfall make rivers 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 to lower 40s.

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.