MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (FOX 9) - A combination of spring showers and a late ice-out date has left many rivers in the state at very high levels, meaning things could get dangerous in a hurry while out on the water.
As the owner of Twin Cities Kayaking, John Schulte spends his days out on lakes, creeks and rivers, leading adventure tours and teaching people how to paddle. This week, he stopped renting kayaks on the Mississippi and Rum Rivers because of the tricky conditions.
"Compared to last year where we had the drought and most of our runs were closed, quite the difference! Of course, it’s really fast right now. People have to be really careful," Schulte told FOX 9.
He says strong currents have made things dicey on some fast-moving bodies of water for novice kayakers.
"If you get caught sideways, that’s what pushes the water over, floods your kayak, and tips you under," Schulte said.
Across the state, at least eight kayakers have been rescued this week alone in Stearns, Isanti and Becker counties.
Before getting out on the water, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is advising people to ensure they have the proper equipment.
"There’s a lot of high water to watch out for which can create dangerous situations for anyone who is out on the water at this time," Lisa Dugan, the DNR’s Boat & Water Safety Outreach Coordinator said.
If you do fall in unexpectedly, hypothermia is a real concern and wearing a life jacket could literally save your life.
"Falling into the water at this time of year versus falling in the middle of August is going to be much different. Water temperatures are still dangerously cold," Dugan said.
To check the river levels in your area, click HERE.