Whitewater Trips Back After Torrential Rains, Future Looks Bright Once Water Levels Have Calmed, Water Levels Peaked Over 3K Percent During 4 July Weekend

Published Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm

By Mark S. Kenna

July 9, 2013. In light of the recent increased precipitation over the past weekend, river levels peaked giving whitewater businesses the opportunity to open up new rain-dependent runs.

Now that the water levels have calmed whitewater businesses around the area expect the best conditions for rafting.

“I think everybody would like to see some sunshine for a few weeks,” Matt Leonard, river manager at High Mountain Expeditions, said, adding that High Mountain Expeditions has cancelled trips over the past four days.

Photo courtesy of Wahoo's Adventures

Photo courtesy of Wahoo’s Adventures

For other businesses like River and Earth Adventures, the rainfall created an opportunity for a special section of the Watauga River to be rafted: a five-mile back-to-back Class III rapid run.

“I have been in the High Country for 17 years, and I have never seen it like this,” Grant Seldomridge, river and office manager for River and Earth Adventures, said.  “Things may pop for a day then back down, but it has been like this day after day.”

However, once the water levels calm down the speculation is that the rafting will be perfect.

“We’re going to have the best waters over the next few weeks,” Virginia Roseman, communication director for Wahoo’s Adventures Rafting, said.  “The New is going to be great.”

Unlike trips on the Nolichucky and New River, excursions on the Watauga River have not stopped. Because it is dam controlled, the minimum and maximum flow downstream the Watauga Dam is controlled.

Even though the Watauga was still safe to raft, Edge of the World saw a 20 to 30 percent decrease in business compared to last year because of the weather, Steve Hogan, river and climbing manager, said.

Here are the peaks in output for each the Nolichucky, Watauga and New River since the beginning of July with a comparison of the average output for each.  All the numbers have been gathered from http://waterdata.usgs.gov.  

New River: July 5, 2013, at 5,120 cubic feet per second which has an average discharge of 320 cubic feet per second, this means the precipitation caused a 1,500 percent increase.

Nolichucky River: July 4, 2013, at 28,600 cubic feet per second which has an average discharge of 877 cubic feet per second, this means the precipitation caused a 3,161 percent increase.

Watauga River: July 5, 2013, at 7,980 cubic feet per second which has an average discharge of 105 cubic feet per second, this means the precipitation caused a 7,414 percent increase.

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