It is a fact the Iguassu Falls are cataracts with a changing and somewhat unpredictable temper. The flow rate of the falls, that is, the water volume going down the cascades can change substantially in a matter of days and even hours. It seems to be that the extraordinary beauty of this place brings within a dose of uncertainty which makes them even more attractive.
Iguassu Falls flow rate can move from a dripping low 200 m3/sec (53,000 gallons/sec) to a roaring high of more than 6,000 m3/sec (1,584,000 gallons/sec). It all depends on rain regimes happening in the south-eastern Brazilian States of Parana and Santa Catarina where the Iguazu River collects its waters before pouring them down the Iguassu Falls and out into the mighty Parana River.
Since Iguassu Falls flow rate cannot be predicted accurately over long periods of time this parameter is not good to decide whether to go or cancel a trip to the falls. But it surely is useful to know what to expect of them a few days before traveling or once there.
Iguassu Falls are a giant system of 275 waterfalls. Watching them at full regime is like listening to a 275 member orchestra with one standing in the middle. When the flow rate goes down, the smaller cataracts of the system start to dry up and the “orchestra" loses some of its performing members. This usually isn't a big subtraction because the show is really produced by the few main waterfalls that are still pouring large amounts of water even during extremely dry periods.
Can the Iguassu Falls completely dry up?
The answer is yes, they have completely dried in two registered occasions, once in 1934 and the other in 1978. So this possibility exists but it's a remote one.
What can one expect of the Iguassu Falls in different flow rate conditions?
To help travelers know what to expect of them we have categorized four possible conditions of the falls.
Condition Red (extremely low flow rate condition)
This is when the flow rate is below 500 m3/sec. The main waterfalls are most probably still discharging significant amounts of water. Most of the smaller ones are dry or almost dry. This simply means the falls are showing themselves in a different way. The main waterfalls are impressive anyway because most of the water volume goes down these waterfalls. On the other hand, the rest are showing themselves naked of the water curtains that normally cover them which is an interesting spectacle to watch.
River rafting activities are canceled because the lower Iguazu River doesn't have enough depth for the off-board motor boats used to run up the rapids towards the main waterfalls. This isn't a big problem though because river rafting isn't an essential part of visiting the falls for most visitors.
Condition Yellow (moderately low flow rate condition)
The flow rate is in the 500-999 m3/sec range. The main waterfalls are almost as impressive to see as when in normal or high flow rate conditions. Some of the smaller waterfalls can be dry or have reduced water volume.
There is a chance river rafting activities may be canceled due to dangerous boulders in shallow waters. Boat rides on the tranquil waters of the upper Iguazu River are held normally.
In this condition the spectacle of Iguassu Falls is almost normal and the reduced water volume can be noticed only by those visitors whom have visited the falls before.
Condition Green (normal flow rate condition)
The flow rate is in the 1,000-2,000 m3/sec range. The Iguassu Falls are showing-off at full capacity. River rafting activities are held normally.
Condition Blue (above normal flow rate condition)
The flow rate is above the 2,000 m3/sec mark. This means that the falls show an even more impressive amount of water. In extremely high flow rates river rafting activities may be suspended due to dangerously strong currents in the Iguazu River rapids. Also, and only in extreme cases, some parts of the walkways in the Argentinean side may be temporarily closed to the public due to floods.
What the current Iguassu Falls flow rate is?
To know what the current Iguassu Falls flow rate is and what its trend is for tomorrow the place to go is http://www.iguassu-misted-falls-vacation.com/iguassu-falls-flow-rate.html
Whatever the Iguassu Falls flow rate is, the incredible beauty of its environment is something that makes them always worth visiting. In many years living here I've never known of a disappointed visitor to Iguassu Falls.
Lucas Antuña, a permanent resident in the Iguassu Falls area since 1998, has become an expert and reliable consultant to travelers wanting to get the most out of this great destination. Want to know more about the Iguassu Falls? The place to go is http://www.iguassu-misted-falls-vacation.com/index.html