Too Much Water in the James River for Canoes

By: Myles Henderson Email
By: Myles Henderson Email

March 31, 2010

The weather may be perfect and the James River is running high, but the canoes at James River Runners are still on the trailers.

Three criteria need to be met before the boats hit the water: river depth, air temperatures, and water temperature.

"Once the river gets over 6 feet, the flow, the speed and the amount of water moving down really makes for unsafe conditions," said Chris Wilkes, owner and manager of James River Runners.

On Wednesday, the James was running at about 10.5 feet -- over the 6 foot limit but down from just a few days ago.

"The river got up to about 13 feet earlier in the week," Wilkes said, "so we're watching it come back down now. Whether or not it gets down to that 6 foot is going to be questionable by the weekend."

As far as temperature goes, look for a combined air and water temperature of more than 110 degrees to canoe or kayak. Even though the area saw temperatures in the 70s on Wednesday, the river is a chilly 44 degrees.

"Stage one hypothermia can set in relatively quickly, so we try to keep running when the water is a little warmer and the weather is a little nicer," Wilkes said.

Last year, James River Runners really didn't get going until mid-June because the water levels were too high, but they are hoping for an earlier start this year.

"We've had a lot of water, but the weather seems to be holding up and cooperating, so hopefully it wont be quite such a late start for us," Wilkes said.

You'll also have to wait a few more weeks until the Hatton Ferry opens. The ferry opens April 15 and runs Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

UPDATE: Friday, April 2nd
Average Depth = 8.5' near Hatton Ferry, Water Temperature = 48°

UPDATE: Saturday, April 3rd
Average Depth = 7.85' near Hatton Ferry, Water Temperature = 48°

UPDATE: Sunday, April 4th
Average Depth = 7.4' near Hatton Ferry, Water Temperature = 52°

UPDATE: Wednesday, April 7th
Average Depth = 6.7' near Hatton Ferry, Water Temperature = 56°

UPDATE: Saturday, April 10th
Average Depth = 6.7' near Hatton Ferry, Water Temperature = 60°

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