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Washington rivers, lakes still cold despite hot air temperatures

While the air temperature may be warm, the water temperature in rivers and lakes will still be much colder.

Temperatures in western Washington are expected to reach 80 degrees Mother’s Day weekend. The last time we saw temperatures in the 80s recorded at Sea-Tac Airport was over eight months ago on September 3, 2019.

It might be tempting to jump into a river, lake, or stream to cool off, those waterways can be dangerous this time of year. While the air temperature may be warm, the water temperature in rivers and lakes will still be much colder.

Although the air temperature might be in the 70s or 80s, the water temperature will still be in the 40s and 50s, the National Weather Service said in a tweet.

As of Friday, Puget Sound was between 48-50 degrees, Lake Union was 49 degrees, Lake Washington was 54 degrees and Lake Sammamish was 57 degrees, according to KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott.

RELATED: Know the risks on the water this boating season

If you’re planning to go out on the water this weekend, here are a few safety tips to remember:

General water safety:

  • Supervise children at all times.
  • Take swimming lessons and never exceed your abilities.
  • Go to bodies of water that you are familiar with.
  • Always wear a well-fitting Coast Guard approved life jacket when near or in water.
  • Remember that boating/swimming and alcohol are a dangerous combination.
  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • Notify others of your plans to be on the water and a return time.
  • Take a cell phone with you.


  • Wear the appropriate equipment. In addition to a life jacket, consider a helmet and foot covering.
  • Use a professional rafting company.
  • Avoid cheap/inexpensive rafts that can be easily damaged by branches and stumps exposed on the river.
  • Know that river water temperatures are typically in the low 50s.


  • Obey boating laws and rules for the particular lake you are on.
  • Watch for swimmers, those fishing, and other boats/watercraft.
  • Know ahead of time about any underwater obstructions such as tree roots or branches.
  • Swim at lakes that have lifeguards.


  • Swim at pools with lifeguards.
  • Floating or inflatable toys are not a safe substitute for a life jacket.

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