BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A record winter of snowmelt into California’s rivers has made for treacherous recreation conditions that have led to multiple people falling victim this Memorial Day weekend to the fast-flowing water.
Three people died this past weekend along the Kern River and 24 others had to be rescued. At surrounding rivers, five more people had to be saved.
Bakersfield Fire Department Administrative Battalion Chief John Frando told the Bakersfield Californian that this year’s heavy rainfall and melting snowpack that has been sending powerful amounts of water into the river.
“We’ve been encouraging people for well over a month to stay out of the Kern River this year as a result of the higher flows,” he told the paper. “There’s a lot of hidden dangers as a result of that increased water flow.”
The increased runoff has also brought dramatic rapids and swift flows back to the Kern River after five years of severe drought.
Officials say they fear the conditions could become more dangerous as chilly snow melt continues to fuel the river water.
All three of the deaths this past weekend had been rafting incidents. Officials say 10 people have now died in Kern and Tulare county rivers this year.