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Russian River Estuary
Micro-climate Forecast
Always Avoid Restricted Harbor Seal And Sea Bird Resting Area And
River Mouth Currents.

November into December:

Periods of heat and moderate temperatures remain throughout the year. Calm periods in between some breezy or rainy events. 

No Act Of Nature

Cancellation Fees.

Lake like tidal salt water in between rainy periods.

Birds, Seal Pups, Whale, Wildlife In Plenty.  

River mouth open and perched.  Slower "estuary" currents, below 8 ft in Guerneville, with incoming tide. Currents may be present upstream and after each rain. 

11/24/2021: Many dry days with calm estuary waters.

 Fairly calm. Skies overcast to full sun with temps peaking in high 50s to mid 60s.

Always avoid river mouth currents and point of "No Return" flushing into the Pacific Ocean.  Be generous. If you feel a current, you're too close to the river mouth.

 

 

New Website Build In Progress

Safety Information and Links

 

Limitation on Rentals:


Coastal and Wind influences:  Kayakers may be required to show certification of prior kayak instruction or demonstrate skills prior to renting a closed deck kayak during windy or moving water conditions. Tours Are A Good Option. Skills Courses Are Available.  Discount on first kayak rental after taking our beginning certified kayak skills and self rescue course.  Sit on top kayaks are available.
 

No recreational activity is inherently safe...

Being aware of local wind, rain, temperature and water conditions, as well as the behavior of local wildlife, can make the difference between enjoying a wonderful time in nature or risking rescue or injury. 

We provide links to learn about our local wildlife and to confirm local river, ocean, and weather conditions and projections. 

It's well known that outdoor conditions can change for a variety of reasons. Therefore, Watertreks is not responsible for weather or wildlife or changes that may occur.  However, we do try our best to inform you of what the projections are in our area.

Please. Listen to our safety reviews, respect nature and put your safety first so we all can truly enjoy nature and the wildlife. (An in depth explanation of local hazards is at the bottom of this page.)

Limitations Per Weather and Water Conditions:

We will not allow stacking challenging conditions for experienced paddlers. This means folks that may enjoy a little rain, some river currents, or some pushy wind conditions still will not be able to rent or tour if more than one condition is in the forecast.  A full list of our limitations, and when we close for all activities, can be found here.

​​Maps: The main river mouth formations and the two hour island loop. These are trends not a predictor of how it really looks. "Know before you go" and drive to the " River Mouth Vista Pullout" just past River's End Restaurant in Jenner, for the best land based view of ocean and river mouth conditions.

 

             Common Summer / Fall Formation:

 

  River Mouth Hazards / Protected Sea Bird and Harbor Seal Resting Area

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        
 

Please use our links for weather and water updates.

  WaterTalk Bulletin Board: Share your experience.
Water Updates / Paddle Partners / Buy / Sell / Trade


The Most Common Links We use: 

Estuary Tide Gauge: River Mouth: Open, Perched, or Closed?

And the more technical, USGS Source with more options for historic time periods.

Full tidal fluctuations are obvious: River mouth is open and deep.

Reduced low tides: River mouth is shallow and perched

River level rising only: River mouth is closed. Water levels rising with lake like conditions forming up to 15 miles upstream possibly to Guerneville. More commonly to above Monte Rio or up to the Summer dam at Vacation Beach, if it is in place. Always expect river currents just below Summer dams. Avoid getting stuck in hazardous sucking currents that form at dams.  Portage and land your watercraft upstream to put it back in below the dam instead.


Weather, Wind & Tides:

Forecasts may conflict. Checking up to three forecasts can be helpful.

Windfinder: Better for wind and tides: Goat Rock  / Bodega Bay

 

Regional 10 Day Forecasts and Our Microclimate 3 Day Hourly Superforecast

 

Wind Direction: Greatly influences how much wind we feel in the estuary. What we feel can be less or more windy than upstream sections of the Russian River. Please see our interpretation of three recent forecast models on the left hand column of this page.
 

Wind and Weather: Better for hourly rain, temperature and lightning but "not" a micro-climate forecast for wind.
NOAA: National Weather Service

Windy: Fun graphics and you can get technical on the go with the app.
But we keep Windfinder as this one does not give hour by hour forecasts.

River Level and Flood Forecasts:

Guerneville

Healdsburg

Hopland

River Height / Flow And Dam Flows: CDC Russian River

All locations Ukiah to Guerneville


Annual Tide Predictions: California Coast
Fort Ross & Bodega Bay Tides Are Located Near The Bottom Of The Page.  Includes Rise & Set for both Sun and Moon. Select a location and then the dates desired and timespan.

 

Other Great Links: 


Weather & Water: Forecast Links

Sonoma County Water Agency


Surf Report: Please contact us if you have a great local link to share!

Bodega Bay Buoy



Local Information:  Wildlife, Recreation and Common Conditions.

Sonoma Coast State Park

Greater Farallone's National Marine Sanctuary

Marine Protected Area

State Marine Conservation Area

State Marine Recreation Management Area

 

There is a national spotlight on this area concerning research, and habitat and wildlife recovery and protection.

Restricted Harbor Seal and Sea Bird Resting Area

Whether the river mouth is open, closed, or perched, coming within 150 feet or 50 yards and disturbing "any" of their natural behavior can result in a fine up to $10,000. For your convienience, in our main tourism months that area is roped off on land. The two water edge natural markers are the huge log jammed up on the old jetty and the large estuary survey marker rock.  This restricted area also protects you from entering river mouth currents. Note: Entering river mouth currents can result in being flushed into the Pacific Ocean with potentially deadly consequences.


Tides In The Russian River Estuary At Jenner:
Tides can be up to 30 minutes later than other nearby forecasts.
They Are Influenced By River Mouth Formation!


River mouth  closed: Lake like conditions possibly upstream to above Monte Rio in the Summer (10 miles), or even up to Guerneville (15 miles) in the winter when there are no Summer dams.  Lower Russian River levels are influenced much more by river mouth closures than by tidal influence: River mouth closures can commonly raise water levels upstream in Monte Rio or even a couple of inches up to the Summer Vacation Beach Dam in Summer months.


Who Closes The River Mouth?: Nature!
Seasonal wind and wave direction and high waves force large amounts of sand onto Goat Rock Beach which closes the river mouth.


River Mouth Breaching by Sonoma County Water Agency: Requires a permit and is only initiated to prevent flooding in Jenner. However, this requires a sand buildup around the cement river mouth jetty for the dredger to be able to cross to initiate the process. If there is no sand bridge across the Jetty, then dredging is not possible.  Also, high waves can threaten to suck the dredger and it's operator into the ocean. If either condition is present, then the river mouth will be allowed to rise into the natural flood plain and breaching will be left to nature. In December of 2015, a severe river mouth blockage rose river levels as far upstream as Guerneville. Although there was no serious flooding upstream, the river rise did flood the Jenner Visitor Center, low lying portions of river front homes, and covered half of highway one in the lowest sections of Jenner.  Do not attempt to breach the river mouth yourself as you can be arrested.

Mouth Narrow / Shallow: Less tidal influence.  Less extreme low tides.  The estuary becomes similar to a bowl with a pour over lip. High tides can wash in over the lower river mouth lip and higher levels of estuary water can spill over the lip. But at lower tides the river water is held back in the bowl rather than fully dropping with the tide. This formation is commonly considered to be Perched.  There can still be dangerous currents at the narrow river mouth.

Mouth Wide Heavy Current: Caution! Currents May Be Too Swift To Paddle Back Upstream!  The Ocean Waters Off Goat Rock Beach Can Be Some Of The Deadliest Waters In California.  Rich in wildlife and great to visit, but Not For Swimming or Wading in the Surf! There is a point of No Return in any river current. Private Paddlers have been swept out the river mouth with deadly consequences.  Always Avoid The River Mouth! On outgoing tides there is increased risk of being swept out to sea!

Playing in the waters on the riverside at Goat Rock Beach can be more family friendly, if there is little current, but be aware that the water is not as warm as it is upstream and stay out of any river mouth currents!

Seasonal Conditions Vary: 
Plenty of water year around from Monte Rio to Jenner.

Coastal Temperatures:  Fluctuate less than inland reaches.  Expect Daytime Coastal Temperatures  5-15 degrees below what you will experience as you paddle upstream.  Morning and Evening hours are cooler inland than on the coast.

Summer Months: Current is slow but start your activity early to avoid seasonal afternoon winds April-July. Note that April is generally the windiest month of the year with those periods of a few days, with high wind hazards, slowly reducing into our Summer months.  Evening and Sunset Activities often have no wind. Expect occasional fluctuating mist and fog locally in between seasonal heat spells inland. Always pay attention to Tidal Currents and avoid the River Mouth!

August - November: Wind: Expect little to no wind most days. Coastal fog is extremely rare. Inland may experience periods of fall tulle fog. An occasional couple of days with wind can be expected any month of the year. Always pay attention to Tidal Currents and avoid the River Mouth!

December - March: Morning and Evening Temperatures can be quite cold at times.  After 9 or 10 AM is usually best.  Water: When we expect the most rain in Northern California.  Although the weather can be quite nice in between periods of rain, River Currents May Be Strong After Each Rain Storm.  This can shut down kayaking in the estuary near the river mouth.  For boaters with moving water skills, it can be a plus upstream, after the river debris clears. It may take a day or two to clear. Pre-Scouting for logs and other keeper strainers (debris that can trap you and your kayak under the water) is a safety priority after each rain.
Guided Tours and Certified Instruction May Replace Beginning Kayak Rentals. Always pay attention to Tidal Currents and avoid the River Mouth!

March - May:   Morning and Evening Temperatures can be quite cold at times.  After 9 or 10 AM is usually best.  Remember to avoid occasional strong afternoon winds. And note that April is generally the windiest month of the year with those periods of a few days with high wind hazards slowly reducing into our Summer months. Expect occasional fluctuating mist and fog locally in between seasonal heat spells inland, especially when those heat spells occur at the same time as extra cold ocean temperatures. Always pay attention to Tidal Currents and avoid the River Mouth! River Currents may continue to move on and off through May depending on rain and upstream dam releases. This provides opportunities to flow with the current, paddle less and practice basic class I moving water maneuvering skills.  This is the most popular time of year for more experienced paddlers to enjoy the Russian River and Seasonal Creeks. Please Practice The Same Cautions Mentioned For December - March.

 

A Note On Extreme Paddling and Surfing:

You may on occasion see surfers or paddlers with professional life vests, paddles, and even helmets, on sit on kayaks or in those with spray skirts entering or returning along the beach or through the river mouth.

 

This is not a common practice! You are lucky to see someone  (who has trained vigorously) do so. Tsunami or Neptune Rangers, athletes practicing for competitions and certified open water rescue personnel are not your average kayaker or paddle boarder. They have studied the changing winds, tides, undertows, sleeper waves, rip tides, etc., of the area and are willing to take the risk to do so. In most cases the ocean is almost flat and the tides are in their favor. Weather and water conditions can change rapidly. Extreme outdoors people track this.

 

For beginning and novice paddlers: If you see experienced surfers or kayakers returning from the sea, do not enter the sea! This is the end of their activity and may signal that conditions are changing for the worse. Remember that ocean currents at this location are often deadly even for professional surfers and paddlers.

 

If you see someone, who is obviously not a professional paddler, in the river mouth or ocean. Please warn them away! If they are in trouble, Call 911 and send someone to find an Ocean Beach Life Guard!  Do Not Attempt Rescue Yourself. To Do So May Result In Death! If they are endangering children, please call the Ranger!  

 

A Note On Extreme Paddling and Surfing Equipment:

These are not your basic kayaks or boards. Your average recreational kayak is deadly in the ocean. You are risking death if you enter the ocean in a kayak without having and knowing how to use: An upgraded wave ski, surf ski, ocean paddle board, sit on top or professional sea, touring or downstream or play white water kayak. ( Hint: None of these come from Costco! ) A spray skirt to keep the water from filling up and sinking your kayak, a pump to remove excess water if you flip, a paddle float bag to assist getting back into your kayak if you flip, an upgraded vest to keep you afloat if you flip. And a horn or life guard whistle to attract help.

 

Even at that, my own competition son misread the water and had his spray skirt and vest ripped off of him by the waves. Again he also had Professional Swift Water Rescue Certifications. He learned a valuable lesson in taking the waves for granted and we are lucky he made it. 

 

We care about your safety too. So please, do not approach the river mouth or go into the ocean unless you already have trained and are certified for understanding and attempting this type of extreme sport.

 

A Final Note On Rescues:

You're welcome to look at the same safety and interpretation maps we use for our clients. We update our verbal interpretation daily per the existing and expected conditions.

 

Our main location in Jenner is a Managed Marine Recreation Area under both California State Park permits and includes both their and NOAA's Greater Farallone's National Marine Sanctuary and Federal regulations and limitations.

 

Our job at WaterTreks is to ensure that you know what the wildlife and safety regulations and limitations are, as well as to give you the best information on how to enjoy the local ecosystem and wildlife while avoiding harming yourself or endangering local wildlife. 

 

When our guidelines are followed, we as staff or interns should not have to perform a water related rescue.

 

We are not required to put ourselves in harm's way if you ignore our guidelines and put your life at risk. Note that sometimes the wind forecast changes, and we do get on the water to accompany our clients back during unexpected high winds.

 

The rare client that goes into the river mouth safety "No Go Zone" is put on a non-guided black list. And they may not rent from us. They may join a guided tour or be required to pass a certified kayak safety class, at our discretion, prior to being taken off the black list.

 

WaterTreks Staff and Interns are not required to assist in rescuing private paddlers. However, each year I do end up assisting in preventing private paddlers from being sucked out the river mouth.  And I've been forced into the river mouth in unsafe conditions, by unaware private paddlers, to do so.

 

Neither I nor my staff will enter the ocean to assist in a rescue. We generally are not "open ocean water" rescue qualified. Neither I nor my staff need to be, as we focus on calmer "deep water" lakes and estuaries and "swift and flood water river" rescue. 

 

Our clients must respect and avoid the river mouth safety "No Go Zone" as well as the harbor seal and sea bird resting area and ticketing limitations near the river mouth.  

 

The ocean beaches at Goat Rock are clearly marked as Deadly! Anyone that is swept into the ocean will need to wait for assistance from State Park Lifeguards at Goat Rock Beach, who generally do not have a clear view of the river mouth. Their presence at Goat Rock Beach does not guarantee survival.  And yes, Goat Rock Beach has rescues, with folks on foot who ignore the warning signs, being swept off the beach almost every year.

 

Why would your average person put themselves or their family at risk in such conditions in a tiny kayak?

Real rescue is not fun. It puts our lives at risk too. And we all want to have fun.

 

Please. Listen to our safety reviews, respect nature and put your safety first so we all can truly enjoy nature and the wildlife. 

Every smile enjoying nature makes our day. I look forward to seeing yours,

Suki Waters

 


 

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