MARIETTA -- The powerboat races that are the centerpiece of Marietta's annual Riverfront Roar event have been canceled for this weekend, but other aspects of the show will go on.
Heavy rains this week - including storms Wednesday evening that downed trees and power lines in some parts of the Mid-Ohio Valley - are expected to leave the Ohio River too treacherous for the high-speed racing that annually draws thousands of people to the levee in downtown Marietta.
"The sanctioning body said 'no.' They felt like the conditions were too dangerous," said Gary Williams, chairman of the Riverfront Roar committee. "I think people, when they see the river (today), will understand why the drivers didn't want to risk their boats or their necks."
The Ohio River at Marietta had risen to nearly 22 feet Wednesday afternoon, while the normal level for this time of year is 15 or 16 feet, according to officials with the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Tree branches and other debris were visible floating in the muddy water even before thunderstorms struck Wednesday evening.
According to the National Weather Service, the river was expected to crest at Marietta at 26.3 feet, well below the flood stage of 35 feet. Clear weather through the weekend should result in the level dropping, but not low enough to allow for a safe racing environment.
See additional information in Friday's News and Sentinel