A nice, mild weekend may make us think about getting out on the water, but it may be a week too soon. This morning, Mississippi River water temperatures are only in the lower 50s. They are running cooler than normal, thanks to a quick snow melt across Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
While that's way too cold to go swimming, most boaters don't think about it since fishing and pleasure boating will keep people out of the water.
But what happens if there's a worse-case scenario where someone ends up on the river? There's actually a rule of thumb called the "Boaters' Safety Rule," that determines when its safe to be out on the water. If the air temperature (in Fahrenheit), added to the temperature of the water (in Fahrenheit) doesn't surpass 120, it's unsafe to be on the water without a wet or dry suit. Case in point, if you're in the middle of the river and fall in, you will receive hypothermia before you're able to swim to shore.
This weekend's projected temperatures of 70 degrees with water temperatures in the 50s barely meet that criteria. It's best to wait another week when a fall into the river will still be dangerous, but not deadly.
-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen