Our Official Flow Prediction for California Rivers 2009

Posted April 28, 2009 by Gregg Armstrong, Co-Founder

Up and Down Winter Weather of 2009:

California receives 90% of its precipitation between the months of October and April. The wettest months of the year are usually January, February, and March. The Golden State likes to veer from the norm in many ways and this winter’s weather was no different.

kaThe wet season started out normal in November and December, but January was extremely dry. By the time the first month of the year was over, the Department of Water Resources in Sacramento was predicting drought conditions in California. Then “Fabulous February” happened…

Beginning early in the second month of the year, a strong series of storms came to California and a wet, cold pattern continued for four weeks. This wet weather erased the impact of a dry January and conditions improved considerably.March and April had nearly normal amounts of snow and rain, and cooler temperatures preserved most of the winter’s snow pack.

What did Winter Leave With Us?

Even though it has been a “feast or famine” type of winter, California has ended up with a healthy amount of precipitation. Several regions ended up with 95% of the 50 year average and others were as low as 70%. The overall average for the state was 80%. This is good news and reflects conditions very similar to those that created the 2008 rafting season.

Forecasted Flows and Conditions:

Rivers are already flowing well and will continue to do so for several months. Dam-controlled rivers will have higher flows until early June due to added snowmelt. Once the snowmelt is over in late June, full reservoirs will ensure normal sustained flows through the summer and into fall on theSouth andMiddle Fork American, the Tuolumne, and Cherry Creek.


Rivers that are not dam-controlled should flow well from now until late May and late June depending on location. The Merced, Kaweah, North Stanislaus, North Fork American are in this category.

Whether you want to raft this spring or this summer or fall, you will have good choices thanks to

the precipitation from this past winter.


For detailed flow predictions for each of our 10 California rivers, and any updates, please check our blog or visit our Real-Time Flows Page.

misc_005If you would like to talk to us personally about this season and predicted flows, please call us. We are always happy to answer any questions you might have.

(Pictures: Top–Kaweah River Rafting Bottom–Springtime trips often have “extras” like wildflowers, or as seen here, waterfalls!)


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