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Fall Creek Swimming Rules Redux

With the tragic death of newly minted graduate Kendrick Castro 11 in Fall Creek last night, I think we definitely need to pause and reflect on all of the tragic losses that the Class of 2011 have incurred over the last four years. Every single loss is a tragedy not only for the victim and their family and friends, but the greater Cornell community as well. And from what I can gleam about Castro online, he is a consummate Cornellian.

That said, it might also be time to revisit some of my common sense rules for interacting with Fall Creek. I unfortunately had to pen these rules three years ago when rising sophomore, Douglas Lowe '11, perished while swimming in the creek.

At the time I wrote:

Do not enter the water if the discharge as measured by the USGS here is over 50 cubic feet of water per second. It appears that it was yesterday evening.

And so it appears that it was yesterday evening as well, registering around 240 cubic feet per second. That's five times as much mass moving through the gorge at any given time, and given that energy is a quadratic function of mass, that means that the creek was 25 times more powerful than a level I would consider relatively 'safe'.

Additionally, it looks like Castro and his friends were farther downstream from the Suspension Bridge falls, down around Ithaca Falls underneath the Stewart Avenue bridge and close to the brink of Ithaca Falls. And while I didn't write about it at the time, it definitely gets dicey down there, with quick rapids and steep rock shelves. Especially at last night's water levels. Pictures are available at the Ithaca Journal.

Now we'll just have to wait and hope that the University doesn't attempt to put up meaningless barriers trying to disallow people from enjoying the gorges.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on May 31, 2011 (#)

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