Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘downpour

Dramatic Downpour

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Holy cow, did we ever get a dose of dramatic weather last night. The rain came down so fast and hard we had over 3-inches within about 45-minutes, much of it during the time when the weather service had declared a Tornado Warning for our county.

Cyndie’s garden went from being a little too dry to a lot too wet.

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We ate home-grown peas from the garden for lunch yesterday! No pesticides, no chemicals, no shipping required. Just pick, wash, and eat.

Everything in the garden got washed last night. The path from the house down to the chicken coop became a river.

Cyndie went out to close the chicken door when it seemed like there might be a break in the downpour intensity, but the hens weren’t in yet. They were huddled underneath the coop and didn’t want to move. The pause in the rainfall rate was short-lived. By the time she got geared up to make her dash, it was already picking up speed again.

When she eventually returned to the house, there was standing water in her boots and she was soaked through all the way to her underwear.

That was definitely one heck of a downpour.

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Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2020 at 6:00 am

Missing Credit

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In my giddy excitement over the discovery of pages and pages of informative details about my ancestors who made Pierce County their home in the 1860s last week, I neglected to credit the Pierce County Historical Association and more specifically, properly cite the copyright holder of the book!

Krogstadt, Roland J. 2010. Hartland Heritage: A History of Hartland Township, Pierce County, Wisconsin, edited by Donna M. O’Keefe. Madison, WI

That has since been remedied, with proper citations subsequently added to last week’s post.

On Sunday, I took Cyndie for a drive and showed her the beauty of the high-walled gorge of Isabelle Creek valley. She agreed with my impression that the majority of the steep slopes look no more modern than the images we’ve seen from the 1800s. It is easy to ignore the rare street sign or occasional dwelling and imagine we are back in time.

Immersing myself in so much historical research has me thinking about my trivial day-to-day activities like brushing my teeth in preparation for a night’s sleep or dressing for the day in the comfort of my modern bedroom and comparing it to what the equivalent daily tasks must have been like for my ancestors beside the creek.

The minutia of an individual’s daily little tasks doesn’t tend to be chronicled in much detail in historical journals written a hundred-plus years later.

I can’t help but share one more morsel from Roland Krogstadt’s book, “Hartland Heritage: A History of Hartland Township, Pierce County, Wisconsin” that mentions my 2nd-great-grandfather, Stephen W. Hays (S. W. Hays).

Chapter 10, page 311, under the heading, “Weather”

The Hartland correspondent reported to the Herald, “Last Wednesday night, this town was visited by the most terrific and destructive storm of wind and rain ever known in this locality.” The details followed:

About 11 o’clock the rain began to descend and in a few minutes increased to a perfect deluge, while almost continuous and vivid lightning lit up the blackened sky as bright as day, and the thunder rolled with an ominous, heavy, and deafening roar that added to the solemnity of the occasion and awed all who witnessed it by the grandeur and magnificence of this, the greatest of nature’s pyrotechnical displays it was ever our lot to behold. It secured as though the god of storm and flood had turned out the vials of his wrath upon this once beautiful valley, which at sunset of that evening in seeming security lay clothed in peace and verdure, and which but a few hours later was destined to present a scene of destruction and desolation that words cannot but fail to describe.

A list of over 30 properties and the estimated losses followed and included: “S. W. Hays, house flooded, $50.”

In addition to that, “Strickland & Knowlton’s flouring mill, entirely destroyed with contents, $6,500; …Betcher & McDougall, mill dam washed away, steam factory undermined, east wing of factory, 14 wagons, sleighs, cutter woods, hubs, spokes, wagon lumber, logs and lumber washed away, flume and race filled up with mud, fences gone, &c., $4,000.”

I believe that the Strickland mill was associated with my 3rd-great-grandfather Joseph Sleeper and the Betcher mill was the one Stephen W. Hays was managing.

It helps me to better understand how or why Stephen may have moved away after a few more years. It also has me wanting to be less whiny about the comparatively minor suffering we have endured from so many downpours here over the last seven years.

Nature’s wrath is nothing new.

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Written by johnwhays

February 25, 2020 at 7:00 am

Free Show

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Nature put on quite a show last night. We swung from oppressive heat and humidity in the afternoon to a sky-mazing thunderstorm that moved in with such darkness it got the chickens to enter the coop an hour early. Well, full disclosure: it took a little coercion from Cyndie to get the last two to move inside because there was still a sliver of daylight visible in the sky, opposite the direction from which the storm was approaching.

They weren’t all being fooled.

Cyndie dashed back in the house just before the full force of the deluge began to pound down. We received about an inch and a half of rain in roughly an hour’s time.

From inside the house, it was unclear how severe the wind gusted, but there was enough to open a rare, but not unprecedented, leak over the toilet in the bathroom. Only certain combinations of wind and water trigger that short-lived breach of our shingles.

Earlier, Cyndie had already reported the dramatic storm that rolled over us on Sunday night (which I successfully slept through) had tipped a tree that is now leaning across the west border trail in our woods. There will need to be additional reconnaissance later today to check for even newer toppled trees or branches from this storm.

During the roar of the downpour, it was hard to hear how much thunder there was, but based on Delilah’s reaction, it was occurring regularly. After the rain stopped, it seemed like the lightning and thunder became more intense. I know the dog’s barking sure did.

As the sun sank closer to the horizon, the back side of the storm clouds moved clear to allow for a nice double rainbow. At the time, there were still some spectacular flashes of lightning happening, so it provided quite a visual splendor.

The rain brought down the temperature to a more comfortable level, but the humidity still lingered. Unfortunately, our normally wonderful geothermal AC system is displaying a fault that showed up before bedtime, so we opened up the windows for the relatively fresh overnight air.

The storm offered a dramatic weather show for free, but I don’t think the AC service call today will produce anywhere near that kind of a bargain.

Frankly, though, when the weather is oppressively uncomfortable, functioning air conditioning almost always seems worth the expense.

A bargain at any cost, you might say.

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Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

Serious Soaking

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First, I want to share an image that I received from Cyndie yesterday morning after she read my post. Exhibit A:

She had forgotten to send it earlier, but my description of how Delilah loves rubbing her snout in the snow reminded her.

Just as I predicted, there is very little snow left now. It was very gloomy all day, and rained throughout, but being mostly chained to my desk, I didn’t really notice how much rain actually fell. All I had to go on for what was happening across the state line at home, was the weather radar.

My main concern was over how the thunder might be upsetting Delilah. I wasn’t sure about what hours she might have the company of Anna, our animal sitter who helps out between classes at University of Wisconsin – River Falls. It’s hard to pinpoint the minutes of big thunder claps booming.

I did find the telltale evidence of a throw rug at the deck door pushed up into a pile, indicative of her usual tizzy of “shouting” down the big bully who is threatening us with all that rumbling noise.

From her location and behavior when I walked in the door, I’m guessing she tired of the stormy weather and took refuge in the one place without windows. She didn’t get up until after I walked in –an uncharacteristic behavior– from the rug in a short hallway between bathroom and bedrooms, where she had obviously been sleeping.

The situation at home turned out to be an anti-climax to the alarming sights I witnessed on my drive after passing through River Falls. The whole way from work was wet, but closer to home there must have been an extreme downpour.

Just south of River Falls, I spotted the first epic flooding, where it was pouring over a side road, making it impassable. A short distance later, I noticed a car turning around on an adjoining County road. As my car moved past the intersection, I saw that a highway crew was trying to deal with a missing lane of asphalt that had washed away.

Five miles from home, I cross what is usually a little meandering stream, but the outlines of the banks were completely indistinguishable beneath what was now a giant flowing lake.

The water flowing in ditches looked like raging rivers. I worried about what I might find at home.

Luckily, although there was an abnormal about of water wherever I looked, the damage was minimal.

We now have a pretty significant washout on the path around the back pasture. I’m afraid I will need to resort to a bridge over that gully now, if I want to keep mowing that route with the lawn tractor.

It used to be a slight depression that I could drop into and drive up out of, to keep mowing without interruption. Any attempt to repair the gulf with fill, so I could continue to drive over it, would just get washed away with the next heavy rain.

That spot is calling for a load of field rocks, which then leads me to the plan of needing a bridge for the lawn mower.

Our land is in a constant state of change. I think the rate of change is accelerating due to a certain alteration of the global climate.

It’s intimidating.

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Written by johnwhays

April 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

More Love

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Picking up where I left off yesterday, on the subject of love…

I had a moment —well quite a few moments, actually— of being overwhelmed by simultaneous competing demands on my attention at the day-job yesterday. In the midst of the crazy-making, I felt an urge to be standing in the energy of our 4 horses.

I think they were sending me love.

I made a mental note to get myself down with them when I got home from work, rain or shine. This region has been under siege by downpours of heavy rain lately. My late departure from the cities turned out to be mostly trouble-free, both from traffic and precipitation.

When I got within a mile of home, I spotted standing water in some of the farm fields. As I pulled into our driveway, I saw water running in our drainage ditch. We had obviously received a significant amount of rain just a short time before. Cyndie confirmed it had poured hard.

dscn5148eThe rain gauge contained 1.25 inches. The horses seemed entirely calm and collected with the situation. I needed to dig out a run-off route that had filled in and caused water to flow where we don’t want it to go.

Working there in the paddock put me right where I wanted to be among the herd. Legacy was particularly friendly and approached me to connect in a way that seemed a little uncharacteristic of him.

I think he knew it was just what I was hoping for.

Standing with them, breathing, loving, and feeling loved.

Horse medicine for what was ailing me.

I loved it.

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2016 at 6:00 am

August Rainsaster

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DSCN3783eThe predicted October-like storm, with potential for record-setting low pressure for this time of year, unleashed the greatly feared torrents of flash flooding rain on us yesterday.

It revealed several areas where we need to improve our water management if we hope to withstand the ongoing onslaught of gully-washing downpour events that keep happening with increasing frequency.

When I got home from work and went outside to check on things, there was 4.5 inches of water in the rain gauge. I knew from that amount that the round pen would not have fared well for losing sand, so was prepared for the worst.

In spite of the heartbreaking mess of runoff sand, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. I could see where some of the worst spots were for the water running into the round pen, and quickly went to work with a shovel to dig channels for draining water around, instead of through.

I also dug several pathways to encourage water to more quickly flow out of the paddocks, before it pooled up and drained toward the round pen.

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Back up at the barn, where our gutter upgrade has yet to happen, the old system was failing brilliantly. I needed to pull the downspout to clear an obstruction, soaking myself in the process, and then discovered fixing that just transferred the overflow to the bottom where the downspout enters the buried drain tube. Something, either the recent dump truck activity or simple horse traffic, appears to have impeded the flow down the buried tube. That will be a doozy to fix.

While walking down to check whether anything was flowing out of the bottom of the buried tube (—it wasn’t—), I saw that an old drain channel I had created to entice flow out of the small paddock was flowing like a raging river. Yay! A success!

But when I reached the fence line, where the ditch opened to my main drainage swale (I thought), I found that the water was curling and flowing back into the paddock, traveling along the inside of the fence down to the bottom corner by the round pen —just the area I was trying to avoid.

It was now raining hard again at that point, and I was about as wet as could be. I was tired, saddened, and feeling entirely defeated. Dragging my sorry soaked self up toward the house, I checked the rain gauge again to see that an additional inch had fallen while I was out.

I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.

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Written by johnwhays

August 19, 2015 at 6:00 am