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Contact(s): Joanne Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement,, 608-209-8147
May 29, 2019

MADISON -- The wet spring with May's heavy rainfalls and snowstorms have swelled some Wisconsin lakes, streams and rivers into flood stages.

Heavy rains in May have many Wisconsin rivers flowing high and fast. - Photo credit: DNR
Heavy rains in May have many Wisconsin rivers flowing high and fast.Photo credit: DNR

High water -- marked by surging currents and hidden floating debris - has Department of Natural Resources officials urging all water users to check local water conditions, to know the area's weather forecasts and to wear your life jackets.

DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement Captain April Dombrowski says the higher, fast-moving water also can tax an individual's boating and paddling skills.

"What may look like a flat, inviting river or stream, may disguise a fast-moving current pulling debris out of your sight and under the surface - and could put you in danger without a lot of warning," she said.

Dombrowski said this wet weather is a worthy reminder for all to check local water conditions before boating or paddling, swimming or any water activity. Good places to check are local tourism offices, DNR offices, local bait shops, sporting goods stores or the U.S. Geological Survey website for current conditions of Wisconsin streamflow (exit DNR).

High water level waterways can be a showcase of the state's beauty and natural resources. However, be aware of the power of the water's current -- which is strong and can vary.

Water levels also will vary due to weather and from water body to water body," she said. "Careful of downed trees, floating debris, strong currents submerged rocks and, along with strong winds causing increased wave activity that could affect how your watercraft handles."

And she reminds all on the water to take this easy step to safety.

"Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when venturing out on the water," Dombrowski said. "Today's models are comfortable versions. Wearing one just might save your life."

Here are some other safety tips from the captain:

Last Revised: Wednesday, May 29, 2019

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