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Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Burlington VT
814 AM EDT Sat Apr 13 2024

...The Hazard of Cold Water Boating... 

The National Weather Service in Burlington, Vermont urges
extreme caution when boating, canoeing, or kayaking during the
spring, when water temperatures typically remain dangerously cold in
the event of a capsize.

After a long North Country winter, thoughts naturally turn toward
warm weather recreational activities. The first warm days of spring
often attract boaters and other recreational enthusiasts to the many
beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams across Vermont and northern New
York.

Those venturing out on area lakes and rivers need to be aware of the
dangers posed by cold water temperatures. On pleasantly warm and dry
days in April and May, it is easy to overlook the fact that the
temperature of the water is much slower to respond to the change of
season and warms much more slowly than the air temperature. Rivers
are often still affected by runoff from melting snow from mountain
summits. Lakes continue to up-well cold water from below until a
temperature of 39 degrees, and then increase in temperature slowly
based on amount and days of sunshine, near surface air temperature,
and the size of the body of water. On Lake Champlain, climate
records indicate that surface water temperatures are typically in
the upper 30s in late April, and only rise into the 40s during May.

Immersion in cold water can become life threatening very quickly.
Should your craft capsize, hypothermia in waters with temperatures
in the upper 30s and 40s can occur in just a matter of minutes.
Since water conducts body heat away up to 26 times faster than air
of the same temperature, the cold water rapidly causes extremities
to become numb, weakening the ability of muscles to work
effectively. Tragically, several individuals have lost their lives
on North Country rivers and lakes in recent years, drowning in the
very low water temperatures of early May.

The NWS urges the following safety measures to protect yourself and
maximize your enjoyment of area waterways:

Consider postponing small craft boating activities until water
temperatures become warmer in late spring and summer.
If you do choose to boat, canoe, or kayak in April or May, wear a
dry suit appropriate for water temperatures in the high 30s and 40s.
Wear all recommended protective gear to guard against the cold water
in the event of an accident or capsize.

Remember, no matter the season, when you are on the water, always
wear your life jacket.

Safe boating is no accident! Please take the time to think safety
first and plan appropriately for weather and water conditions before
heading out on lakes, rivers, and streams.

$$

 
 
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