Warmer weather will cause Central Oregon rivers and streams to rise early next week

April 28, 2023
Warmer weather will cause Central Oregon rivers and streams to rise early next week

By Joe SiessAs warmer weather settles into Central Oregon and it feels more like spring, the days of window scraping and driveway shoveling are behind us. But the above normal snowpack is beginning to melt, which is expected to increase water levels in local rivers and streams early next week.

Widespread flooding is currently not anticipated, according to the National Weather Service office in Pendleton.

But Tom Schuldt, a meteorologist with weather service, said Central Oregon can expect rivers to be more active than normal and also to rise to what is called bankfull, which means the water level of a river, lake or stream is at the top of its banks with any further rise moving into the flood plain.“Once we get into April and May, it is not uncommon that we issue these (hydrologic outlooks) because rivers will be running higher,” Schuldt said. “In this specific instance, it is all snowmelt as we go into early next week.”Schuldt said scattered rain showers should move into the region next week, exacerbating the hydrologic outlook in the area.

He said the cooler spring in

Central Oregon means the warmer temperatures now will put more water into the system given the snowpack.The springtime warmup, which began Friday with a high of 84 degrees, is expected to last all weekend with a high of 82 degrees on Saturday and then 70 degrees on Sunday before dropping back down to 59 degrees on Monday with a slight chance of showers, a weather service forecast showed.

Schuldt said the region is also currently shifting into an El Niño weather pattern — which refers to a warming of the ocean’s surface to above average temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific, resulting in wetter, snowier conditions in the winter. The weather service is expecting a 62% chance of El Niño developing during May through July of this year.

Sue Fox, a manager at Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, said a lot of people are hoping to rent equipment to get out on the river in Bend this weekend, but not because of the higher water levels in the Deschutes River.

“The water levels, because we are dam controlled, one way or the other we almost always have water this time a year. Realistically, I think we will be busy based on the weather temps and the fact that we had such a long winter people are really ready to get out,” Fox said.Fox said more people come to the shop to buy guidebooks and then head for rivers like the Owyhee River in Southeastern Oregon. She also said people are probably heading out to enjoy whitewater rafting given the increased river activity. 

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An aerial view of a body of water.