PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It may be the last thing you want to hear if your Memorial Day weekend plan was to take a lazy cruise on the Allegheny or Ohio Rivers, but boater Bill Wokutch says, “you gotta be crazy to go out in this.”
WoKutch and his wife, Dee, were on track for their annual trip to Beaver County Friday afternoon until they saw the angry waters of the Allegheny River swirling around their boat, the Foxy Lady.
“We ain’t leaving,” Bill said. “This boat ain’t leaving here till probably Monday.”
Tied off at the next pier over, Eddie Springler was working on the “My Way” with no intention of testing the current.
“You have to have respect for the river,” he said. “It’s not worth dying for, no matter how much fun you want to have.”
The National Weather Service says three inches of rain over the Upper Allegheny River Valley in the last few days is now flowing to The Point and bringing with it everything it can claim from the riverbanks as it flows.
While the Allegheny normally flows at about a half-mile-an-hour, NWS Hydro-Met Forecaster John Darnley says, “The velocity is 2.6 miles-per-hour.”
The current, plus the debris rushing down river, is why Darnley and his colleagues issued a boating advisory for the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers for the weekend.
“Conditions exists that warrant you maybe rethink what you are doing,” Darnley says.
Huge logs are constant in the flow.
Conservation Officer Bob Wheeler, of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, says the debris boaters can see is not the problem.
“A telephone pole will float just below the surface,” says Wheeler. “It will take your prop out and it may even take your outdrive out.”
That he says leaves you dead in the water and at the river’s mercy.
“You’re going to be surprised how quick you move, especially how it’s moving today,” he added.
Forecasters believe the rivers should return to normal levels and flows by early next week.