Looks like we've got a low pressure system slowly moving through our area this weekend. It'll be wet today and tomorrow but by Friday evening the low should be moving Eastward. Not a lot of instability with this one so expect mostly rain with maybe a rumble of thunder here and there. Storm prediction center says we're not likely to get anything severe. While lots of localized rainfall is possible, the river valley is very dry right now and river levels will not fluctuate more than a couple of inches. Given sandbars are massive right now, that won't cause any trouble. Bring a poncho! Or raincoat, rain pants, and probably a tarp or two if you're headed out before Saturday. After that we're down to less than .1" of rain. Ryan
July 13 Update Looks like better news on the weather front. We should see most rain or storms on Friday afternoon/evening and a limited chance of rain on Saturday. There's even potential for the whole shortwave system to fall off to our south which would leave us fairly dry. At any rate, we're only expecting rain on Saturday morning now with Saturday afternoon staying dry. The cold front on Sunday has also slowed down into Monday so expect a great, sunny Sunday! ============== We're looking at a pretty normal stretch of summer days with chances for storms most every day as temperatures peak in the high 80s/low 90s with plenty of hot humid air. 80% of the time it'll be great to sit in the river, the other 20%, hold on to your tents. Tons of summer sandbars available though so no need to worry about them going under with a little rain. Saturday currently has a 50% chance of isolated storms in the morning hours but the real chance for rain/storms is Sunday night into Monday as a cold front moves through our area. Winds look reasonable from the south and even the southeast throughout the weekend - all in all, I'd take favorable winds and an hour or two of storms over the nasty headwinds that tend to accompany bright sunny days. Tips on how to deal with storms? I love ponchos. Ponchos should be required canoe camping gear. Sit in a canoe and you're completely covered by a tarp. They're great. Also while walking around camp, plenty of airflow in hot, muggy air. Tarps or pop-up tents are also great if you're looking at extended rain and don't want to be cooped up in a tent or you'd rather not swim. We had storms two weeks ago that were a great reminder about how the wind is the thing most likely to cut your trip short. When a large storm rolls through it's often accompanied by a huge, short burst of 40+ mph winds. Two weeks ago that happened right around sunset when everyone had their tents up. Very shortly after that a not insignificant number of people were coming off the river because, no exaggeration, almost every single tent was broken. If things are getting crazy, un tension the poles/drop the tents for those few minutes ahead of the storm when that big gust comes through. It's very likely you can put them back up after the wind and before the rain. Worst case, a roll of duct tape should be able to hold splintered fiberglass poles well enough through the night. Good luck! Ryan
The outlook for this weekend is pretty phenomenal. I'm giving it a preliminary 9 out of 10. Highs in the mid 80s, crisp nights in the low 60s. Sunny with essentially 0% chance of rain and light winds out of the south (i.e. not headwinds). Water levels have been dropping like crazy and will continue to do so through the week. There will be about as many sandbars this weekend as there ever are, which is to say a lot. The bad news, we're sold out so if you haven't already booked, sorry! We're now into peak season (next week is also booked). That said, it's not uncommon to have a few last minute cancellations so keep an eye on the inventory, you might get lucky. For all of you going out during the week, there is a medium chance of rain/storms Wednesday and Thursday. The chances are pretty sporadic and should be isolated. We've got quite a bit of hot and humid weather this week before it clears out for the weekend which leaves us with an unstable atmosphere. No big disturbances are expected (thus the low odds) but it won't take much to kick off a small localized storm. Basically, don't change your plans, but also be ready for a little thunder shower during the day. Thanks! Ryan
Crazy amount of wind for a few minutes last night as the first storm came by but otherwise the rest of the night turned out to be pretty quiet with only a small amount of rain. Still questionable what exactly happens today but looks like we'll see something come through between 12pm and 2pm. Once that's over with, clouds will diminish this evening and it'll be sunny and quiet through the 4th. Still sending trips out today, though day trips especially are welcome to cancel given the likely timing of the storm this afternoon.
Temps into the higher 90s today with a 'feels like' over 100 - good thing the water is 73. Looking at a 50% chance of storms coming through tonight; they are mostly expected to stay in a line west of us but a few could break free and make their way here. Probably worth tying the canoe and tent together overnight as the main concern will be wind (water levels should be unaffected) and you don't want to lose one or the other of those things. Sunday could be interesting, still currently seeing a 70% chance of a storm moving through in the afternoon as the cold front to our west slides across the area. This will be one to watch the radar for timing and severity (again, wind and lightning is the main concern more than water levels - only 1/4" of rain expected). All trips are going out but if the heat is a problem today, or storms tomorrow, let us know and we'll figure it out. -Ryan
Water levels are continuing to drop nicely upstream and it's looking like we'll have a decent number of sandbars above water by Friday with more coming out as the weekend progresses. It's pretty likely you'll be sharing some of the larger sandbars with new friends but at least they'll be out there. Temperatures are expected into the 90s with a bit of rain overnight Saturday. Not terribly ideal but at least things are going in the right direction for the rest of summer!
Update: 6/25 Everything below still holds, sandbars should be back ~Thursday. We're going to get a little more rain in our immediate area but further north is expected to get significantly less which is overall good news. We should know definitively by tomorrow (Tuesday) mid-morning. ======= We're about a day away from peak river on our stretch but we're now dropping upstream where it matters. River predictions have been stable for the past couple days and the forecast is looking mostly sunny and dry across the watershed with only one questionable period next Tuesday. All of this means we're on track to re-open next week Thursday 6/28 give or take a day (this could change if anywhere north of us gets an inch or more of rain). While sandbars will be small right away, with any luck the river will continue to drop to normal summer levels as we get close to July. Keep an eye on the graph below for any forecast changes - these are updated twice a day in times of high water, typically around 9am and 9pm +/- a few hours. We're aiming to be at or below 13.5'
It's official, we're out of commission well into next week. We're expecting over 40kcfs of water on our stretch of river by the middle of this weekend. Just a couple days ago we were at 5kcfs and our cutoff is 15kcfs so you can understand why seeing 40kcfs in the NOAA predictions makes cancelling all trips an easy call even a week out. Here's a good idea of what's coming with kcfs numbers on the right of the graph: To put that 40kcfs number in perspective, that's 300,000 gallons of water flowing past each second of the day. Between the first rise and when we're expected to get back to normal? 16,956,000,000 gallons. 17 billion additional gallons of water in 10 days. That's enough to fill 1.7 million backyard swimming pools and you'd still have a river running at normal rates. That 40kcfs moving through the Wisconsin River is likely to be the highest ever recorded on that date. What happened? Northern and central Wisconsin have been getting hammered more often than not this week. They're currently looking at 600% of the usual amount of rain in the past week and our watershed runs right up the middle of it. Turning it up to 11 This early in the summer the vast majority of central Wisconsin is still mostly barren cropland. While the forests and grasses have long been fully leafed out, these brown fields allow a significant amount of that rainfall to go straight into the river system/watershed without getting absorbed into the ground (this is also when you'll get all of the algae blooms and drop in water quality from farm runoff). As these farm fields become fully grown, that water absorption rate goes way up and these storms create far less trouble downstream. Unfortunately, we're still a couple weeks from that happening and thus the massive spike in water levels from our relatively low base a few days ago. The image below shows what happens between May (brown), July (green), and two days ago (mostly green) When will it be over? This is our $10,000 question (because that's about how much we've refunded this week). I'm hoping we'll see warm sunny skies as much as possible over the next 12 days in which case the river will take a steep dive right before the last weekend in June (the start of our peak season). How likely is that? Eh, I'm a little hesitant to guess, it's just too soon. The current predictions by the people that are paid to know these things say approximately next Tuesday but they also don't take weather forecasts into account beyond 24 hours. Realistically, I'd say this will be pushed back to Thursday or Friday based on the 10 day outlook statewide. It does help that we're getting closer to the heart of summer so when things start to drop, I wouldn't be surprised if they drop fast. There's also a lot of wishful thinking here - it's never fun to see a wrench thrown into everyone's plans.
The overall volume of water in the river system is tripling (or more) right now. New readings coming out of Castle Rock upstream already put us underwater and it'll only get worse as the next few tributaries up the numbers before this water gets to us. Trips through Thursday are officially cancelled due to high water. Too soon to know exactly when they'll drop back down below sandbar level but we should get an update within the next couple hours on the graph below (aiming for 13.5 or less). Right this second I think we've got a 65% chance of losing the June 23/24 weekend. The hope is that the larger than expected release now means they'll dump enough water to be able to drop back down before the weekend. Wait and see I guess.
A very narrow storm rolled through last night and while overall rainfall totals weren't a lot, it sat right on top of the entire river valley. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a pretty large spike in water levels throughout the whole system upstream of us. We'll see the amount of water more than double between now and Sunday night and while we should still have a few sandbars, it'll be a far cry from where we are now. Trips going out midweek should be okay finding places to camp as things currently stand though I'll be watching closely for updates. For this coming weekend, current river predictions have us coming back down pretty quick, just in time for Friday BUT, there's also rain in the forecast statewide for Monday so we'll have to see what happens there before we've got a real good idea on timing. This is a tricky time of year for water level predictions as the agricultural fields start to green up and take in a substantial amount of rainfall. Before that happens, rain mostly runs straight into the water shed i.e. the river which causes the big surges in water levels. The current predictions are still pretty fresh and could be revised downwards as more data comes back on what the rivers are doing and when. Long story short, wait and see. We'd really like the graph below to stay under 13.5 feet. -Ryan