Sunshine and warmer temperatures may be on tap for the upcoming week, but safety officials are worried about the potential hazards lurking in Vermont's waterways after days of flooding.
"The especially hard hit areas were Chittenden County," said National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Loconto.
Loconto and his team are monitoring Vermont's rivers and streams after near record rainfall caused several waterways to swell.
Burlington got almost 7.5 inches of rain in the last five days. That's more than double the city's monthly average. But with a major warm-up on the way, swift water rescue crews have a warning for swimmers and boaters.
"Any canoeing or kayaking in the Winooski River or any area where there's lots of current now is going to be particularly dangerous for people," said Mike Cannon of Colchester Technical Rescue.
Colchester Technical Rescue is most concerned about popular swimming spots like Bolton Potholes and Huntington Gorge. These summertime favorites are notoriously dangerous and even deadly at times. More than 20 people have drowned in the gorge. Hundreds more have been seriously injured over the years.
"These swimming holes, although they might be safe at certain times of the year, there are other times of the year that they are totally not safe. And this is one of those times of the year," said Cannon, "With the high water levels and the currents, it's a recipe for folks getting swept downstream."
High flows and fast currents are expected through the rest of the week on Vermont's rivers and streams. Safety officials are urging folks to avoid whitewater rafting and other water sports during that time.
"Even though the air temperature is 80 or 90, you've got a water temperature that's only in the 50s or very low 60s. So hypothermia is a big issue if they happen to end up in the water," said Cannon.
Although the waterways are slowly receding, safety officials say even calm areas can be deceivingly dangerous. The flooding has loaded rivers and lakes with logs and other debris. Rescuers say paying extra attention to these potential dangers over the next few weeks just may save your life.
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