Slow and steady

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!

Currently on track to re-open Thursday 6/28

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'

17 Billion Gallons

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.

Well…shoot. A lot can change in 48 hours.

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.

Spike in river levels arriving Sunday afternoon

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

Looking ahead this week

This spring has been what I like to call reversion to the mean. Water levels continue to remain at or below the 100 year average which means a lot more sandbars than you'd usually see in June, certainly compared to the last few years. This coming weekend in particular looks to be relatively clear and sunny with tame winds and highs in the 90s. Pretty ideal in terms of canoe camping conditions. Given it's still graduation season we're running around 50% capacity which carries over to the river camping as well. This weekend is likely to be the last quiet one before peak season ramps up *hint*. -Ryan

Update on the weather this weekend

We've got a pretty unstable forecast in the sense that the National Weather Service doesn't have a lot of confidence in it. The current climate models have come up with different conclusions about what's going to happen when and with a stationary front, small changes could have a big impact. Yesterday the entire weekend was expected to be almost completely dry. Today the forecast says thunderstorms and rain more often than not. Long story short, it might rain, it not. It might storm, it might not. I assume we're getting rain and a little thunder at some point but I'm cautiously optimistic it won't be an all day thing. I'd recommend checking this forecast every 12 hours or so to get the best idea of what's gonna happen.

More Spring than Summer

Sandbars are out in force this weekend as we continue to enjoy water levels not seen in years. The weather looks very spring-y though with a chance for isolated storms overnight Friday and Saturday. On the bright side, partly sunny and highs in the upper 70s during the day, and forecasted rain amounts under 1/10th of an inch Saturday and Sunday (bring rain gear to be ensure it won't rain). Bugs are dying off and much more manageable than they were two weeks ago and we haven't hit peak season yet which means more of the river to yourself. The icing on the cake is that we're in a rare east wind pattern for the next 5 days or so which basically means you can be extra lazy about your paddling as the wind and current will be working together. All in all I'd give this a weekend 7/10 rating (6 if more rain comes into the forecast). -Ryan

Small storm rolling through Saturday evening

I've gotten a couple questions about the weather coming through Saturday night - long story short, it's not a factor. Longer story, there's a long line of precipitation moving relatively quickly across the midwest that'll move over our area from ~7pm-11pm tonight peaking around 9pm. Storm Prediction Center says less than 5% chance anything will be severe and total rainfall is under an inch. In fact, the line is currently falling apart ahead of our area and the closer towns in our line are already seeing rainfall predictions under a half inch. Most of the stuff that could be scary is heading south through Illinois. If you're headed out overnight, we're not issuing full refunds but if you really don't want to go we'll give you a credit (reply to your confirmation email or send us a text message with booking ID number). Thanks! Ryan

Greetings from a sandbar!

Out on the river for Norah's first canoe camping trip of the season but I promised a quick update on water levels this weekend - they're gonna be great! As is the weather. We didn't get as much rain as feared and there's been no real spike in levels so I'm very confident sandbars will be in good shape. Even the mosquitoes are finally dying down (I'm living proof as I type this). See you all this weekend! Ryan

Behind the Boats

Ever wonder what life is like running a canoe company? Some people do. I've gotten questions ranging from "How many times have you been to the Boundary Waters?" (one) to "What do you do in the Winter?" (it depends) and my personal favorite "You must love paddling" (paddling is #4 on the list).