Flow cfs

First, I have lurked here for a few months and learned a lot, so thanks everyone!

Lately we have received heavy flooding and it

made me look up some websites indicating current flow for local rivers, the river one block away (Trinity) is at 20,000 cfs…flooding it’s banks

on the other side of the levy.

It looks like a bubbly, fast mess…no rapids…

Just fast water.Would you run it?

Seriously the question is, what do I make of the

numbers when I see this info? what is extreme vs. novice material? (obviously 1 cfs is barely moving)

I dig knowing about wheather stuff but since starting kayaking things like cfs, flood stage, etc. are new terms. Any links?

20,000 cfs could be a nightmare

– Last Updated: Jun-11-04 5:31 AM EST –

or it could be a walk in the park. CFS is cubic feet per second. CFS doesnt tell me anything about a river without knowing how wide a river is or is gradient(elevation loss). CFS doesnt tell me about the rivers characteristics other than the volume of water. Any river in flood, although not having apparent rapids or obvious dangers, could be a dangerous place to play.
I know a few streams where 500 cfs would be a death trap. I can also think of a few rivers, like the really big ones, where 20,000 cfs would pose no problems to a canoer.
Ask around and check with paddlers in your area about what you might expect to find on that particular stretch of water.
I cant emphasize enough that rivers that are outside there banks are potentially extremely dangerous. When that fast moving water goes across tree limbs or swirls around underwater obstacles it makes for life threatening scenarios. You river might be ok or it might be nasty. Hard saying not knowing. What river is it?

Good Advice
you need to know the typical flow of your river before understanding what CFS means at given point. But the fact that you said “flood” and overflowing it’s banks means “Danger, Danger, Danger!!! Not to be run by folks without very good skills and knowledge of the river.” It may not have apparent hazards but the very “pushy” water can force you into a “hidden” one that will claim you life mighty quick…


Another thing to think about

– Last Updated: Jun-11-04 5:50 AM EST –

Flood stage rivers ( and especially the Trinity which recieved thousands of gallons of sewage recently ) are usually completely full of sewage run off from treatment plants that could not handle the flooding. For health reasons you don't want to end up swimming it that.

Per the american whitewater website, the Trinity is class II (V) which means there is a dangerous spot. Usually there is a range of flows considered “runnable” but none were given. The site suggests that a book by Stephen Daniel called “Texas Whitewater” be obtained and has links to purchase it.

If you haven’t done it already, check it out at www.americanwhitewater.org.


A good way to learn.
…about a particular river is to use the data on (waterdata.USGS.gov).

If you look at the data on a daily basis, and then also look at the river, you will evntually get to know what is safe and what is dangeous for that particular river.

We were supposed to race in the New River Last week, but the State Park, (which was one of the sponsors) rescheduled it to tomorrow due to fast water. The CFS was only 500, but they were afraid that some of the junior paddlers could get themselves in trouble, and rightly so.

A group of us, some who had driven several hours to race paddled anyway, and many times we turned and paddled against the current for a workout.

We have most of our favorite rivers from that website as our favorites, and can pretty much tell what to expect by looking at it prior to paddling.

On any fast water, the killer is usually sweepers and undercut rocks or banks.

Unless you are an extemely good and confident WW paddler, I would keep away from flood water.



Thanks for the links.
I think I have a grasp on it now. It looks like

the river usually runs around 1,000cfs or less. It makes since that cfs means nothing without knowing the size of the creek/river, and what normal cfs is.

I will stay out of it for now, the pollution, debris is pretty bad, and some big whirlpools here and there… plus I may be able to paddle my street later today if it keeps rising.

Also Regional
Out here on the west coast the rivers are smaller but much steeper. Some of the nastiest class V runs up in the Sierras run at less than 1,000 cfs.

20,000 cfs…
is normal for the Harrisburg Pa. area of the Susquahanna

But 20 miles down stream at Marietta.32,000 is normal. Just for a guide and interesting reading go to:

www.riverbot.com. it lists almost every river and creek in Pa., Md.and ohio.

I check it every day for the lower Susquehanna when I am going kayaking.