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Recreational boaters urged to use caution

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is advising recreational boaters to use extreme caution this weekend.

Hurricane Sally has produced significant rainfall, which has caused flooding and extremely high water levels on area rivers and lakes. There are a number of fishing tournaments this weekend so please take extra precaution while on the water and always remember to wear a life jacket.

The National Weather Service issued a warning about tropical systems that are currently impacting the north Atlantic. 

Another system off of the coast of Africa has a 70 percent chance of development over the next five days.

Ensure routing for your voyage considers the impacts from any tropical system. Those impacts, to include swell, could extend well away from the storm.

Low pressure, remnants of Sally, should move along a front, off of the East Coast by the weekend and help bring the likelihood of gales to a large part of the offshore waters from the mid-Atlantic south from late Friday night through Sunday night.

The track of Hurricane Teddy will need to be followed over the weekend and next week.

DWR Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) have responded to and worked several boating incidents that have resulted in fatalities and injuries to boaters who have attempted to navigate waters that were affected by heavy rains creating significantly higher than normal water levels, dangerously swift current and trash and other debris that could be floating on the surface or just below the waterline.

“Disregarding safety messages and attempting to boat on rising or flooded waters not only puts the boaters at risk, but also our CPOs and other first responders that are called to rescue them,” said Major Scott Naff with DWR’s Conservation Police. Major Naff also urges the boating public to heed safety warnings and check conditions before they attempt to launch.

If you are a canoer, kayaker or other recreational boater and chose to launch on any river, DWR makes the following recommendations:

We strongly urge you to think before you go. Always check local river conditions. A resource for this is the American Whitewater

website: https://www.americanwhitewater.org

Check your local forecast. Pop-up storms can cause flash flooding and water levels can change drastically and quickly.

Check the River and Lake conditions with the National Weather Service (Wakefield office: https://www.weather.gov/akq/; Blacksburg office: https://www.weather.gov/rnk/)

Be aware that it is possible that high water will force the temporary closing of some boat ramps.

Have a good plan and share your plan with someone who knows where you will be and when to expect you to return.

Finally, make sure you have the proper equipment onboard and that you wear a properly sized and fitted life jacket. Remember that life jackets do save lives.

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