Aerial Videos: California Storms Bring High Flows on the South Fork of the American RiverPosted February 20th, 2017 by Jamie Low
Over the past few weeks California has experienced an impressive series of drought-busting winter storms that have caused Sierra Nevada watersheds to repeatedly approach record highs. Across the state, we have seen widespread flooding, massive infrastructure failures and all-around general mayhem. But you might forgive us if we can’t help but be excited about what this all means for the upcoming whitewater rafting season. 🙂
To capture a sense of what the river canyons look like during events like these, we broke out our new toy: the new DJI Mavic Pro drone. In between storms we flew above the South Fork of the American River to see a green river canyon with flooded parks and campgrounds, massive logs and rafts floating through Grand Canyon style rapids, and waterfalls where we might normally see dry ravines.
We don’t get to see the river like this very often; in fact, it’s only about every 10 to 20 years that our rivers see this much water all at once. For reference, during normal summer flows, the South Fork typically runs somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 CFS (Cubic Feet per Second.) During the peak of the runoff, we’ve seen flows approaching 40,000 CFS, or 30 to 40x beyond the norm.
The last time the river was running this high, HD video didn’t exist. Consumer drones didn’t exist. (So obviously, drones with HD cameras didn’t exist either.)
What you are about to see is something very few people have ever seen.