Watch for rocks: U.S. Army Corps drops Columbia river levels starting Aug. 31

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cautions Columbia River users that water levels from downstream of Bonneville Dam to Longview will decrease starting Labor Day weekend and could remain low for several weeks.

Boaters are advised to exercise extreme caution when anchoring near the shore as river levels could drop considerably in a matter of hours. The decrease will result from multiple effects of natural seasonal low flow, flow reductions from upstream dams and the influence of low tide.

On Aug. 31, the Corps will shut off flows that provide for spill over Bonneville Dam and other Columbia River projects. The spill operations began in April and aid juvenile salmon as they travel downstream to the Pacific Ocean. Water will continue to pass through the powerhouse.

At the same time, Grand Coulee Dam, located on the Columbia River in north central Washington, will begin storing water for a variety of purposes, including for future winter power generation. As a result of these changes, by Sept. 2 river levels below Bonneville Dam could be as much as 4 feet lower than they were on Aug. 30.

Low water levels will likely continue through September, and possibly into October if weather stays dry and warm.

In order to fulfill power generation needs with less water, Bonneville Dam will generate power in the evening and reduce flow during the day to conserve water. The cycling of flows for power production, together with tidal influence, may cause changes in water levels of up to 4 feet per day below Bonneville Dam.

This means even at Portland river levels could drop by up to 2 feet within 24 hours. In the Portland/Vancouver vicinity, boaters and house boat owners can check river forecasts from the River Forecast Center at http://1.usa.gov/17oh0nr.

Boaters and barge lines are reminded that during low flows, there is a greater likelihood of contact with submerged objects, such as sand bars, woody debris or submerged rocks, outside of the federal navigation channel; especially near shore.

Holiday boaters should be extremely vigilant during the Labor Day weekend, as this will be the first — and possibly the most variable period — for water level fluctuations.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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