The Lake Ouachita U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urges boaters to take extra safety measures due to rapidly rising lake levels and large amounts of debris that has washed into the lake after heavy rain from a series of storms that passed through the Lake Ouachita area this week.
As a result of heavy rains in the state, Lake Ouachita is still rising. The current Lake Ouachita Lake elevation is 573.76 feet above sea level. Although this is well below Lake Ouachita flood stage, the rapidly rising lake level causes debris and downed trees to dislodge and be carried into the lake by strong currents caused by inflow of water.
This floating debris may be difficult to see and is potentially very hazardous to unsuspecting boaters. Boaters are asked to use extreme caution while boating on the lake while these debris fields are present.
The best advice for boaters venturing out on the Arkansas lakes is to slow down, wear your lifejacket at all times, and keep a vigilant lookout for water hazards.
Also remember, that although the weather is getting warmer, the rain-cooled water is still very cold. Cold water immersion can result in hypothermia. A mishap resulting in a fall overboard could end in tragedy unless you are wearing a lifejacket.
Boating at night is discouraged due to low visibility combined with water hazards from the storms. If you are boating at night, leave a float plan with family members or friends, ensure all lights are working on the boat, and carry a fully charged cell phone or marine band radio to call for assistance.
Most importantly, always wear your lifejacket!!
For more information on Lake Ouachita, please contact Lake Ouachita Field Office @ 501-767-2108 or visit our website @ www.mvk.usace.army.mil/lakes/ar/Ouachita.