Even before the latest cold front moved in, water safety experts were warning canoers, kayakers and boaters that Iowa’s bodies of water have been slow to warm.
Certified paddling instructor Darrin Siefken of Waverly says even though the air temperature feels spring-like, the water can be ice cold and dangerous. “Our rivers and lakes here in northeast Iowa just thawed out within the last week. So, most of those water temperatures are only about 50 degrees…when the air temperature is in the 60s or so. It’s a good opportunity to dress properly and bring along another set of clothes in a dry bag just in case you would tip over,” Siefken said.
Kayaking is becoming increasingly popular in Iowa. Charles City has a world-class course built in 2011 and similar venues are under construction in Manchester and Elkader. Siefken instructs his students, before they hit the water, to let others know where they’re going and when they expect to return. “And then make sure you follow up and tell them when you get back…it helps with today’s technology that we can get a hold of people pretty easy,” Siefken said. He warns that many rivers in Iowa are full of debris that has washed downstream and could cause navigation problems.