Outdoors blog

Hydrologist: Ski now, paddle whitewater later

Forest Service hydrologist Kevin Davis, right, along Lightning Creek, which was still flowing low and clear on a 70-degree April 30, 2014, near Hope, Idaho. (Rich Landers)
Forest Service hydrologist Kevin Davis, right, along Lightning Creek, which was still flowing low and clear on a 70-degree April 30, 2014, near Hope, Idaho. (Rich Landers)

WINTERSPORTS -- Hold on to your spray skirts, kayakers.  The ski-snowshoe-snowboard season is not yet over.

This week's weather foray into 70-degree temperatures isn't enough to trigger the big spring runoff events whitewater enthusiasts relish.

"It's still getting below freezing at night in the upper Selkirks, and that means the snowpack is holding on," said Kevin Davis, Idaho Panhandle National Forests hydrologist who also heads the  Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center out of Sandpoint.

Sunny days and freezing night temperatures add up to prime corn-snow skiing conditions in the high country for backcountry enthusiasts, he said. But kayakers and rafters waiting for the rush of water down their favorite streams must be patient even though its sandal weather.

Harris was on Lightning Creek near Hope, Idaho, on Wednesday, pointing out the creek was low and clear and the high mountains were still white with snow despite the shirt-sleeve weather locals were enjoying around Lake Pend Oreille.

"Basically it takes 70-degree temperatures up in the mountains -- that's about the trigger point that sets off the spring runoff," he said. "So far, it hasn't been getting that warm up high."




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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