A break from the heat: Forecasters predict literal ’cool’ weekend | TheUnion.com

A break from the heat: Forecasters predict literal ’cool’ weekend

Eastern County to experience thunderstorms this weekend, Western County may receive some showers.

A pair of friends enjoy the day jumping off of rocks and swimming in the waters of the South Yuba River Wednesday afternoon.
Photo: Elias Funez

According to the National Weather Service, the gradually increasing temperatures of Nevada County’s spring 2021 may take a break this weekend.

After temperatures peak in the high 80s today, National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Kurth anticipates western county highs will drop to 80 on Friday, then to the mid- to high 70s over the weekend.

Kurth said the colder temperatures will accompany some potential showers and “maybe even thunderstorms.”

Kurth anticipates the showers will start in the Truckee area early Saturday, which may then progress into thunderstorms heading east around the Sierra Crest.

“When thunder roars, head indoors,” Kurth said, advising this weekend’s tentative hikers and campers.

The moisture may reach western county by Saturday afternoon or early that evening, Kurth said, with the possibility of rain showers extending into Sunday afternoon.

Kurth said the cooler front comes as a relief given western county’s temperatures running 14 degrees higher this year than the average, barring some cooler periods recorded mid-January.

“We had some cool stretches back in January,” Kurth said, adding, “but high temperatures have been normal.”

Penn Valley’s Tim Kram enjoys an afternoon wading in the pools of the South Yuba River Wednesday. Midweek temps in the 80s will be dropping to highs in the 70s by this weekend with a chance of rain and thunderstorms.
Photo: Elias Funez


In eastern county, the difference in this spring’s temperature highs compared to the region’s 30-year average — between 1991 and 2020 — is marginally smaller, Kurth said.

“Even around North Lake, it’s nine to 10 degrees above what we typically see on this date, in terms of the high temperature,” Kurth said.

Kurth said outdoor enthusiasts can expect to enjoy cooler temperatures in the 70s, until Truckee experiences a Monday high of 77 and Tuesday high of 73.

Kurth said in contrast with temperature highs, the daily lows have not delineated much from the average, even dropping below average at times.

Kurth said the season’s unusual dryness, characterized by open, blue skies, promotes warmer days and cooler nights.

“There haven’t been many clouds this spring, so the heat radiates out at night,” Kurth said.


Betsy Brunner, communications and engagement director for the South Yuba River Citizen League, said the relative dryness does not mean outdoor enthusiasts can be cavalier about a river dip this early in the swimming season.

Brunner said high or low tide, the spring season brings snowmelt down the Yuba and American rivers.

“Just because its 80 or 90 degrees outside doesn’t mean that the river won’t be really cold,” Brunner said. “Sometimes people jump in the super cold water or go out on a raft and they get hypothermia.”

Visitors to the South Yuba River explore the pools that have formed as water levels have remained relatively low this season. Fresh snowmelt means waterways are running cold and swift for this time of year and rivergoers need to weigh their own experience with the river before taking a dip.
Photo: Elias Funez

Brunner said she was rafting on the American River last weekend with a young person who arrived in a bathing suit as opposed to a wet suit. Brunner said after getting wet — ultimately in a wet suit — the adolescent rafter requested more layers.

“She ended up shivering and asking for more clothes on the water,” Brunner said. “I’m glad she put on the wet suit.”

Brunner said river visitors ought to be mindful, even more so if they are familiar with an area, that the topography of their swimming hole may have changed under the water’s surface.

“Rocks move, so be careful about jumping into the water. Boulders are not forgiving,” Brunner said, adding, “people end up hurt.”

Brunner said this season there could be many more rocks closer to the surface than people think, but one should avoid the false sense of security that shallow water inspires.

“Even though the water isn’t high over your head, you can still drown from entrapment,” Brunner said. “You can get stuck in place.”

Brunner said her husband, who is familiar with the river’s risk, recommends people taking a dip to keep swimming.

“He’s a water safety instructor and says, ’Do not stand up in moving water,’” Brunner said.

Brunner said people have caught a foot between boulders with their head above the waterline but below a waterfall and have drowned.

Brunner said, so far, no one has died in the Yuba this season, but noted that over 80% of the accidents involving loss of life on the river have involved alcohol.

“You’re not thinking where you’re jumping, you’re not thinking about foot entrapment,” Brunner said. “Water and alcohol do not mix.”

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com

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