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Howdy buzzards.

The MFS basin is sitting at 59% of median SWE and 80% of average precip year-to-date. There's very little comparison data out there in terms of previous years with this minimal amount of snowpack, but what I could find points to a level somewhere in the low 2's for a late June launch date.

For those of you veteran MFS boaters, does that seem like a solid projection? I'm trying to feel out my crew to determine if they want to boat it that low or if we should release the permit for someone else that does want to boat it that low.

TIA.
 

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It's hard to say because a lot can still happen to the snowpack in the next two months. It looks like snow in the forecast this week.


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We are toast! Runoff is happening a month early and the streamflow forecaster guy from idaho is comparing this year to 2007. Bleak. Barring some unprecented snow, or a good rain event or two, 2' is a reasonable prediction for late june. Keep in mind it is still a prediction, and since it is so future weather dependant it is hard to say anywhere near for sure. I have a good link on my computer that I will post when I am on it.

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Sorry folks, but Laura speaks the truth. The only thing that can make a difference at this point is how much rain (not snow) falls and the temps. If it got really cold and stayed that way perhaps some SWE would accumulate, and the melt would hold off, but.... the melt HAS a good head of steam. So wet weather in May/June is the wild card.

The closest years I can find from a snowpack perspective are 1990, 1992, 1994, and 2001. 2007 has too much snow compared to current. Of those years, 2001 looks the closest (and its the worst). So here are the numbers from those years:

1990: peak 3.8, 3' on June 15, 2.4 on July 1
1992: peak 4.2, 2.3 on June 15, 2.5 on July 1 (rain bump?)
1994: peak 4.2, 2.5 on June 15, 1.9 on July 1
2001: peak 3.96, 2.06 on June 15, 1.8 July 1

AND, we're melting out sooner than 2001. (cool temps over the next week will slow it back down).
 

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Sorry folks, but Laura speaks the truth. The only thing that can make a difference at this point is how much rain (not snow) falls and the temps. If it got really cold and stayed that way perhaps some SWE would accumulate, and the melt would hold off, but.... the melt HAS a good head of steam. So wet weather in May/June is the wild card.

The closest years I can find from a snowpack perspective are 1990, 1992, 1994, and 2001. 2007 has too much snow compared to current. Of those years, 2001 looks the closest (and its the worst). So here are the numbers from those years:

1990: peak 3.8, 3' on June 15, 2.4 on July 1
1992: peak 4.2, 2.3 on June 15, 2.5 on July 1 (rain bump?)
1994: peak 4.2, 2.5 on June 15, 1.9 on July 1
2001: peak 3.96, 2.06 on June 15, 1.8 July 1

AND, we're melting out sooner than 2001. (cool temps over the next week will slow it back down).
This is what I was seeing as well, but the warmer temps will make it worse than 2001 I fear. Looks like we have some soul-searching to do.
 

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My general understanding of the MFS was that base flow was a runnable flow.

Is there a chance of unrunnably low flows this season in Aug or Sept?
 

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In 2001, flows dropped to 300 cfs by the end of August before rains in September kicked them up some. That would equate to 1.2 feet on the current gage. Yikes.
 

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meant to add: but I would not necessarily expect it. Despite low snowpack, precip was not "that" bad this winter....it just came as rain and high snow levels. So aquifer still got some recharging (in fact perhaps more than in a cold winter) so base flows may not be as bad.
 

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I am curious if anyone ran off the top in either 2001 or 2007 in mid-August. Trip report appreciated for August in either of these 2 years.
Thanks!
 

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The math is as stated. Bleak.

I've run in November at 600-640 cfs. That was pretty bare, but doable. But I was solo in a light cat. (I could pick it up fully loaded). Half that much water would be prohibitive to all but the most dedicated minimalist and self supporters. The lowest I've run was in the 500 range. That was sticky but again I was solo and light. It was SIGNIFICANTLY harder than 1000 CFS August 2014 or just over 2'.

At 300 I think I would just go for a ducky. or maybe packraft or hike. That is not a rafting flow in any way.

Below 2' it becomes more of a scenic/fishing float with rock dodging. It is no longer a whitewater trip. It also makes it harder to bring the luxuries like beer and coolers and steak, some people probably think of these as mandatory and thus the problems.

Would I drive 500 miles for that? probably not.
 

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We are toast! Runoff is happening a month early and the streamflow forecaster guy from idaho is comparing this year to 2007. Bleak. Barring some unprecented snow, or a good rain event or two, 2' is a reasonable prediction for late june. Keep in mind it is still a prediction, and since it is so future weather dependant it is hard to say anywhere near for sure. I have a good link on my computer that I will post when I am on it.

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Sure enough Laura, I get a Sept 6 post lottery permit and it's looking like a non-starter. Glad I have some other trip options closer to home this year. Bummer.
 

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meant to add: but I would not necessarily expect it. Despite low snowpack, precip was not "that" bad this winter....it just came as rain and high snow levels. So aquifer still got some recharging (in fact perhaps more than in a cold winter) so base flows may not be as bad.
But it's looking like those tubes I'm getting from you might not be making any late season Idaho trips this year.

- Jon
 

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Below 2000 CFS in July? 2000 is roughly 3'. Almost certainly. 99.9%. the decimal being a massive rainstorm on launch day that floods the river but nagically leaves the road intact. It might peak at 3000. The river doesn't live at those magic middle flows for very long in any given year.
 

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June 3 is looking good. The road is very likely to open in May. When I was in Stanley a week ago a local mentioned the FS expected the road to be passable REALLY early and planned to keep it closed intentionally until May 1. Grain of salt perhaps is the proper dose to consume gossip with but a may road opening make an early June launch a perfect middle flow.
Just for the sake of thoroughness: While the flow could be great June 3 in Idaho is still spring. Dress to swim in icy water and be prepared for rain, snow, hail, burning sun, and all manner of weather that even a postal employee would flinch at.

Flows can spike suddenly. Don't bring a 3' attitude to a 6' trip.
 
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