Sunday, May 20, 2012

River's Peaked--What Next?

The Salmon River at Yankee Fork peaked Thursday, May 17th at a flow a few cfs on the high side of 5,000.
As of Sunday, May 20, it's dropping steadily and is now down to about 4,200 cfs at this writing.  There's not much snow left on Galena Summit--the key indicator for the Upper Salmon River.  The Galena Summit SNOTEL site shows 6 inches of snow left with 2.8 inches of water content.  That's not enough to rally a big river like the Salmon up past last week's peak.

For this time period moving forward, the river should drop in an orderly manner, probably going back to a mid-June base flow on the high side of 2,000 cfs, plus or minus a few hundred cfs.  That's a nice flow that's relatively safe to float, providing the paddlers wear adequate river gear in case they take a swim.  Even though the water will be dropping, the actual water temperature won't rise much until the heat of summer begins in July.

We will be doing some research on water temperature trends and will have a report this week.  We will also attempt to summarize what has happened in years with similar early peak flows.  The federal weather people are calling for a hot, dry summer.  If their predictions are accurate, the Salmon will be running pretty low and bony during mid to late summer.  We will also check on the early numbers of the salmon run to get an idea of what fish numbers we're looking at.

So far, this season has all the earmarks of a low water late summer season.

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