2019 River/Stream Crossing Reports

Questions and reports related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
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ERIC
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2019 River/Stream Crossing Reports

Post by ERIC » Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:44 pm

This being a big Water Year, we'd appreciate any and all reports (with photos if you have them) of river and stream crossing conditions in the Sierra. For new members and followers of this site, I highly recommend skimming this thread which gives good advice from another big snow year we had.


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SSSdave
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Re: 2019 River/Stream Crossing Reports

Post by SSSdave » Thu May 09, 2019 9:12 am

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/reportapp/java ... FNF.201902

Have been looking at this CDEC full natural flow ( FNF ) page (link above) for years. Although flows are measured at lower elevations, it can relatively be useful for understanding what has been occurring at higher elevations. It can also be useful for timing trips to say Yosemite Valley or when waterfalls are at their peak flows. Our two most impressive roadside whitewater rivers at snow melt peak are the Merced River along SR140 between El Portal and the Kings River along SR180 between Horseshoe Bend and the Kings Canyon National park boundary, especially near Boyden Cave.

At this time of year after winter fronts have waned, the primary factor changing daily water flows is temperatures. Thus after hot spells flows increase significantly. It also reflects the comparative size of our major rivers at different times of the year. By late summer, our Sierra rivers with highest flows also tend to be those with the highest Sierra Nevada elevations where snow lasts longest or in the north where volcanic geology is slower to release water than granite geology to the south.

At right top one can select an earlier month to see how different these river levels can be. Selecting a winter month when we had a number of large storms shows dramatic changes. The current May 7 highest FNF is on the Feather River with about 16948 acre feet gauged on that day while in the southern Sierra, the Tuolumne, San Joaquin, and Kings Rivers are all a bit less than 11k. During a big storm on February 14 the Feather that has much more elevations below the snow line, recorded 60k while it recorded just 17k on Feb 13 and then 34k Feb 15. During the same storm, the San Joaquin where most precipitation falls as snow that does not run off, it shows 3.9k on Feb 13 15.8k Feb 14 and 10k on Feb 15.

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Re: 2019 River/Stream Crossing Reports

Post by paul » Thu May 09, 2019 5:18 pm

While I did not have to cross it, here are a couple photos of the North Fork of the Kings between Portal Lake and Big Maxson Meadow. A lot of snow in this area still - like 5-6 feet next to the river. I will use this to illustrate a point for those who may be out early and are crossing streams on snow bridges. It's not always obvious where the flow is going under the snow. At one point I got into position to take a photo, then went further along the bank, only to realize that I was on an island and where I had been standing to take my photo was actually right on a snowbridge. Fortunately a stable one, 5 feet or so thick. But I might not have been as lucky. In general, when you look at teh course of a stream that is covered by snow, you can identify the path of the stream, and you can see high and low points along that path, which are almost always thick and thin points in the snow cover, respectively. so always cross at the high points. I am mostly doing this on skis, which has a big advantage, as my weight is spread out over a much larger area than if I was on foot, plus in most cases I can get up a bit of speed and glide across a doubtful spot. On foot, that does not work. Having a ski or trekking pole is a big help, as you can reach out ahead and poke-test a questionable spot. Be careful out there. If in doubt, find a better spot. And if at all possible, aim to cross early in the morning when things are still crusty from the overnight freeze.
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