Iowa DNR warns against water activities - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa DNR warns against water activities

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) -

The higher temperatures Iowa is experiencing may not be enough to fully enjoy all of the water activities that eastern Iowa has to offer.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources warns it may be a good idea to wait it out before taking to the water, but people are itching to get in.

Kayaks and canoes have begun flying off the shelves of outdoors store, Fin & Feather, in Iowa City.

"People are really excited about getting outdoors. They're ready for it. We've had a lot of customers coming in.  It seems like what they're doing this year, they're preparing ahead because it has been such a long winter," said Paul Sueppel, Fin & Feather Camping Manager.

The unseasonably colder temperatures of the longer winter and the recent snowfall is what has the DNR concerned.

"What we get worried about is people getting so excited to get out there that, even though it's an 80-degree day all of a sudden, that water is still in the high 40's and they're going out there, maybe not wearing a life jacket.  That can be a recipe for disaster. We want people to avoid that," Todd Robertson, DNR Outreach Coordinator for River Programs, said.

Robertson said only those with experience should be on the water, and he says many with experience are still choosing to wait longer to get in the water.

"If someone wanted to go outside this week or this weekend, what they're going to find is they're going to find high water, which is going to be very dangerous.  And they're going to find the temperature of the water is very dangerous. The combination there is not good, especially for novice paddlers," he said.

The late snowfall that has now melted means higher river levels, which Robertson said creates stronger currents that can knock paddlers over and bring up debris in the water. With the water still cold, Robertson said exposure to it could also lead to cold water shock or hypothermia. 

Robertson said, if people still choose to get on the water, at the least they should have a wet suit and a life jacket on. He also recommends people take lessons to become an efficient paddler.

The water is still too cold because there hasn't been a long stretch of warm weather. Robertson said it will take up to four to six weeks until the weather warms to an appropriate and safe level.

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