Melting snow creates hidden river dangers

Posted at 1:02 PM, Mar 07, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Milder temperatures mean the snow that fell in Virginia on Wednesday will quickly melt. The melted snow is expected to cause the James River to rise. This may lead to several hidden dangers to those planning to venture out to the river.

"I think the shock factor is there," Richmond Fire Lieutenant Robbie Haggaman said.  "They get shocked and then it's kind of trying to get your wits about you."

Trying to get your wits can be extremely difficult when you factor in not only the frigid water temperatures, but also the fast moving current.  Lt. Haggaman said these elements can cause a dangerous situation to turn deadly.

"Don't underestimate the river," Haggaman said.  "If you are used to going out everyday and being on the rocks and hanging out; we all know we've seen it time and time again it can change in a matter of seconds."

Signs are already posted reminding water-enthusiasts just how the recent rain and snow has resulted in high water and swift currents.

When river levels reach five feet, life jackets are required.  When levels hit nine feet, you must have a permit to enter the water.

"People just need to remember that as the water level begins to rise the water will start to pick up debris off the embankment and so forth and start to bring that down river," Haggaman said.

That debris can already be seen in the James River as large logs are being tossed around like twigs.

Haggaman said everyone needs to "be careful, be smart."