Update: 9/19 8:55am
We're right on the edge of our threshold for sending out trips Saturday and if we didn't have rain right now, I'd say it's on. But since it is raining, I have to err on the side of caution and officially cancel trips.
Really wanted to get out? Water levels out of the dams upstream are dropping as expected so if you don't mind the rain and keep an eye on the river, you could still get out there. I'm guessing less than 10 people camping on the river this weekend so the few sandbars that will be well out of the water are likely to be yours for the taking.
Our high water is receding though it's unclear if it will go down fast enough to get trips out this weekend. Keep an eye on the graph below - we want to see levels below 13.5' on Friday to send out trips Saturday. There will be a warm unstable airmass in place starting Thursday through the weekend and conditions will really depend on whether or not any heavy rainstorms come out of it since we'll be pretty close to our limit.
On the bright side, while the forecast calls for chance of scattered storms/rain over the weekend, total precipitation is currently under an inch with highs in the 70s.
Update: 9/11 10:51am
That came on fast. Latest river forecast out of NOAAs river prediction center has us completely underwater this weekend. It won't even be close. We stop trips at 15kcfs and are now expecting 30kcfs this weekend (normal is 5-7kcfs). Beyond the forecast, the actual numbers we're seeing up north already have us above the limit and we're still expecting 3-4" of rain across most of the state and our watershed (river forecasts only include the next 24 hours of predicted rainfall).
If you're looking for a last minute alternative and don't mind the extra travel times, the Kickapoo River might be okay. Camping is pretty limited to smaller groups though (I can personally recommend Kickapoo Wild Adventures in Ontario). You could also try the Manistee River in central Michigan or the Jack's Fork/Current River (personal favorite) in the Ozarks which should be better for larger 20+ groups.
Update: 9/10 8:12am
Yuck. South central Wisconsin (the heart of our watershed) took quite the hit last night and there is still another 3" of rain predicted for the same area of the state Wednesday and Thursday. Keep an eye on the graph forecast below, we want to stay at or below 13.5' on Friday and Saturday to put trips out. Either way, sandbars will be much smaller than they are right now which normally wouldn't be a concern except that we've got a few larger scout troops heading out this weekend. If you're one of those groups, we'll get you the high water satellite image from earlier this season that will help you pinpoint the location of sandbars able to accommodate your groups. The good news, given this is the second to last week of the season, is that there are very few total people actually going out so if we've got sandbars, it's shouldn't be a struggle to get one.
Looks like we're coming to the end of our great month of weather/water levels. Statewide forecast is calling for a couple inches of rain over the next two days. If this happens, we'll see water levels rise just in time for the weekend. Shouldn't be enough to shut us down but it does mean we'll have smaller sandbars and a little faster current. More updates to come as the forecast turns into reality and we see what falls where. At least the weather looks great for this weekend!
Rain across the northern part of the state will push our water levels up a foot over the next couple days at least (though we've got plenty of room to work with). Forecast calls for temps in the mid 70s with lots of clouds and chances of mild precipitation. Saturday should start out pleasant with the weather potentially getting a bit dreary Saturday night into Sunday.