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King County urges caution as rivers remain high, swift and cold

Unseasonably high stream flows and numerous swift-water rescues on King County rivers last weekend are prompting officials to remind recreational river users to use extreme caution.

At least six separate rescue operations of stranded recreational boaters and floaters occurred on King County rivers last weekend, including three on the Cedar River, where strong currents, cold water and natural logjams increase recreational risk.

With the possibility of improving weather on the horizon, King County officials are urging river users to postpone boat or float trips until conditions improve or to check conditions and scout the river thoroughly for hazards beforehand. River users should be on high alert and ready to react to river hazards, such as new channels, newly fallen trees and other debris.

“Rivers in King County are extremely dangerous this time of year, when flows are high and the water is cold,” said Bob Burns, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks interim director.

“Our No. 1 priority is to ensure public safety, and everyone needs to be aware that there are always risks associated with being on rivers,” added King County Sheriff Sue Rahr.

Even though air temperatures are warming up, rivers, lakes and Puget Sound all remain extremely cold. Public Health-Seattle & King County urges everyone to use extreme caution around open water.

Three cottonwood trees that had fallen across the span of the Cedar River, trapping boaters and resulting in an emergency rescue during the June 13-14 weekend, have been removed from main flow of the water by King County staff. Other sites along the Cedar River that have been reported as potential public safety hazards are being investigated.

For more information on water safety and drowning prevention, visit Public Health - Seattle & King County web pages at www.kingcounty.gov/health.

More information on King County river and boater safety is available at www.kingcounty.gov/recreation.

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