Zion National Park Has Fast Water Incident -- Lots Of Snow Melting Is Causing Roaring Waters

Credit: Fshoq! Blog - Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
On the afternoon of June 11, 2019, visitors to Zion National Park relayed a report of 2 adults and a child stranded on a rock in the Virgin River.

The child, a 12-year-old boy, had been wading in the river and was swept away by the current. The boy's mother and a second woman went in after the boy. The mother was able to help the boy onto a boulder and also use that boulder to support herself.

Though bystanders were able to help the second woman that entered the water, the boy and his mother were pulled from the river by a Search and Rescue team. The SAR team used ropes and a kayak to get to and rescue the boy.

There were no injuries reported for this incident.

“This incident highlights the need for personal attention to safety around stream courses throughout the region under high snowmelt conditions,” said Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. Zion National Park closed the Virgin River, including the Narrows on April 1, due to rising and fast-flowing waters from snowmelt. Snowmelt closures usually only last a month or so. However, this year’s increased precipitation has resulted in a flow rate that is still too high. Rangers caution that the water may look inviting, but at 210 cubic feet per second (cfs), it is powerful enough to sweep a visitor off their feet and into the strong current. Bradybaugh added “access to the river and the Narrows will remain closed until the river level comes down to at least 150 cfs for a full day. We think it will be 1-2 more weeks.”

Fast moving water, though very common every spring and summer, are going to be especially dangerous this year with the amount of water running from the melting snow, which fell in record amounts this past winter. Remember to check with local authorities as to river conditions and always be careful around waterways.


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