NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) – Nevada County officials warning swimmers to stay out of the Yuba River. After three people died earlier this year, they say it’s just too dangerous.
“They’ve heard about it, they see it’s beautiful but they get in the water and they have no idea what’s at risk,” said Caleb Dardick, Executive Director of the South Yuba River Citizens League.
The announcement comes ahead of a busy time on area rivers this weekend.
Visitors from all over the world typically flock to the South Yuba River to take a swim. And heavy snowmelt in the Sierra has made the picture perfect river even more stunning.
“God, this is so beautiful and it’s so hot,” said Billy Bensing.
But officials in Nevada County are warning the public to look but not leap.
“Normally, we’re in the river, that’s where we’d all be,” Dardick said. “But this year, the water is too fast, and it’s too cold to be safe to swim.”
He says typically at this time of the year, the river moves at 12 cubic feet per second. But right now, it’s moving at 800 to 1400 cubic feet per second.
“If you get caught in the rapid with a level of force up against a rock, well there’s a reason they call some of these places meat grinders,” Dardick said.
José Arredondo brought his son to the South Yuba River to hike and picked up a few rocks by the water.
“It’s slippery,” he said. “If you don’t pay attention, you could slip in, and you know it’ll take you.”
But some locals, including Buzz Myers, came to see for themselves just how cold the water is right now.
“Be very careful, move out very slowly, don’t go and beyond what your capabilities are,” Myers said.
Dardick says the water is about 50 degrees: cold enough for hypothermia to set in within seconds.
“If you panic, you will die,” Bensing said.
Nevada County Supervisor Heidi Hall says for now she hopes visitors and locals will heed the warning and pick another place for a summer swim.
“We want them to come back in August when the water is lower and safely play in the river,” Hall said.
Volunteers will be out by the river every weekend to remind people that even though it looks beautiful, it’s not safe to swim.