Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘flash flood

Storm Damage

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By the looks of the driveway alone, up at the lake, it is obvious that there was some heavy rain. There is evidence of a flash flood of runoff that washed gravel away into the woods. Farther along on the property, we discovered that the big eagles’ nest had also succumbed to the deluge. There was debris of sticks and dead fish on the ground at the base of the tree. Looking up, the size of the structure had shrunk considerably.

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Still, the two youngsters remained perched, one on a branch above, and one on what was left of the nest. We occasionally hear them calling out to the adults who are the source of their meals. I would expect the stinky fish that landed below to eventually be picked up and delivered above again. It’s not like they’re past their expiration date or anything.

Getting the fish bodies up off the ground would make it a little easier to walk Delilah that direction. It takes a lot of muscle to steer her clear of trying to roll around in all the stench.

On a whim, I decided to be adventurous and take Delilah for an explore in the woods across the highway from our property. As soon as we made our way beyond the thicket of growth along the berm beside the road and got into the spacious forest beneath the spectacular canopy of the tall trees, I discovered the hazard of my decision.

All that rain seems to have unleashed a ferocious new batch of teeny mosquitos. They were unrelenting in their onslaught. I tried to keep moving to foil their attempts to land, but Delilah –lacking the exposed flesh I presented– didn’t share my urgency. She kept stopping to smell every enticing forest odor and, still on leash, frequently chose a path that had us at odds over which side of tree trunks to be on.

I had to cut our expedition short and set a course straight back to the bright sunlight of the roadway.

Things were much calmer when we got to the beach and I let her soak in the water while I stood on the sand taking a sunbath and listening to loons.

By that point, the storm damage was out of sight and out of mind. Almost the same for the chaos of the preceding week.

I will continue this course of therapy for a couple of days. It seems to be just what a doctor would order for what was ailing me.

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Written by johnwhays

August 10, 2019 at 7:51 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

Oh My

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Anyone need some August rain? We have extra. I’d be happy to share.

Unfortunately, all that water fell in a very short amount of time yesterday morning, so the result was something of a flash-flood type of runoff.

Our silt fence along the northern border below our neighbor’s corn field was already filled with sandy topsoil that has flowed with every rainfall since we installed it. That led to an overflow which flattened some of our grass beneath an inch or two of silty muck.

Balancing that negative with a positive, the trail at the bottom of our hill in the woods, where I placed the pavers, is working perfectly. There is a small lake-like puddle where I spread the salvaged landscape rock, while the pavers are providing excellent (dry) footing across that rest of that section.

The amount that fell overnight will get tallied after the sun comes up today, but by the looks of the radar and sound on the roof and skylight last night, we got a lot more of the unneeded wet stuff than we wanted.

I sure wish I could transfer a large amount of it to the drought-stricken regions that need the water a lot more than we do.

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2017 at 6:00 am

Silt Filtered

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The new silt fence installation mostly worked, but it wasn’t quite up to the task of yesterday morning’s deluge. We received 2-inches of rain in a span of about 20 minutes. I made a quick reconnaissance trek to assess the worthiness of our installation in the moments after the downpour and found this:

It was a little deflating, but not unexpected. Interesting to see how easily the water pressure pushed away the bales as it overflowed the plastic fabric barrier. The good news is that most of the silt did remain on the uphill side of the fence.

The water will not be denied. When I pushed the bales back in place and stopped the overflow, the soil beneath my feet simply bubbled up with flow out of the ground like a spring.

Five and a half years ago when we started this property adventure, I had no idea what I was in for in terms of actual land management. If I have learned anything in that time, it is that whatever the design might be that we conjure up to enhance this land, it better fully keep in mind and will be wholly subject to, the whims of the changing climate and the water behavior it will unleash, from drought, to frost heaves, to flash flood and everything in-between.

With reverent reference to the classic thriller, “Jaws” :

We’re gonna need a bigger fence.

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Written by johnwhays

June 12, 2017 at 6:00 am

Okay Already

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I’ll tell. I’ll tell. Enough time has passed that she’s gotten over the shock and trauma and has been able to have a few good laugh-till-out-of-breath moments over her escapade on Saturday.

Cyndie stepped on a rake.

There. I said it. It’s true. Yep. A rake.

I’m pretty sure OSHA would not approve of the unsafe work practice of letting a rake lay on the ground with the tines all pointing at the sky, but she somehow let that happen. How many times can you do that and not suffer any consequences?

Doesn’t matter. All it takes is once…

I gotta clarify, though, this was no standard namby pamby garden rake. She was working with the dreaded level head bow rake. Yeah. Ouch.

It wasn’t a slow roll up to her noggin’ it was a lethal instant THWAP to the head.

Cyndie was under the willow tree at the time of the incident, and a gust of wind blew the wispy branches in her face. In her (probably somewhat out-of-balance) reaction, she planted a foot to catch herself and stomped on the business end of the rake.

The sound made by the handle smacking her skull was frightening. Then, that was followed by equally frightening sounds of her pained reaction.

Thank goodness that’s behind us now and we can laugh about it.

We celebrated her birthday yesterday by installing a silt fence uphill of her garden of flowering perennials which was inundated by the flash flood a few weeks ago. If the bizarre laws of “the way things go” plays out, now that we have this in place, it won’t rain again for months and months.

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Just in case it does, and comes in one of those all too frequent 4-inch-at-a-time hundred-year events that happen multiple times a year now, we think we have a better chance of controlling the flood.

Time will tell.

Moral of the story, be careful out there. And always lay your rake with the tines down.

Yep, just like the cartoons. WHAM!

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Written by johnwhays

June 5, 2017 at 6:00 am

Flashingly Flooded

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Tears. I could feel them through the text message I was seeing on my phone. Cyndie was getting a first look at the results of Wednesday’s heavy rains. Her flowering perennial garden had suffered a direct hit from the flood of water that poured onto our property from the farm field to our north.

In my pre-dawn departure for work, I had not noticed the extent of topsoil slop that had washed over our land. The much more obvious evidence I did see, which revealed the significance of overnight flooding, came in the form of field debris coating the roads.

I also spotted the dramatically high level of water overflowing the banks of the small creeks and waterways as I traveled the roads away from home.

Nature’s wrath has little regard for our feeble efforts to confine the actions of our environment.

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Written by johnwhays

May 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

Didn’t Miss

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I was wrong. Turns out, the rain didn’t miss us. It was simply delayed. When it finally moved over us, it arrived with a vengeance.

IMG_iP1080eCHThe precipitation began in the early morning hours yesterday, and thrashed down with significant gusting winds. I was awakened about a half-hour before my alarm by the tempest, allowing me a chance to lay and wonder how the horses were handling the assault.

The nasty weather added unwelcome drama to my commute through the cities in the early darkness, reducing visibility to the point that most decisions become mere guess-work, while my car was shoved to and fro unexpectedly by the extreme gusting wind.

The temperature hovered just above the freezing point, and throughout the day the precipitation oscillated between wet, icy, and flaky.

Cyndie sent me some pictures and reported that the horses were soaking wet, jumpy as heck, and shivering to beat the band when she arrived to offer the morning feed. Poor Hunter was beside himself, looking thoroughly undone and having a tizzy about getting into the barn. When he is cold and wet, the first thing he does upon entering the confined space of his stall is to lay down and roll in the wood shavings we use for bedding.

IMG_iP2931eCHIt makes a scary racket, because he inevitably hits the walls with his feet in his wild gyrating. Cyndie said he successfully got himself covered with wood shavings from head to tail.

By afternoon, the rain gauge had captured 2 inches. As I neared home on my return from work, I began to see water flowing in ditches that are usually dry. Every creek I crossed was spilling out beyond its banks.

Delilah had to traipse along beside the trails in places that were under water.

If we get a quick freeze, I’m afraid Cyndie will need to wear skates when she walks the dog in the days ahead.

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Written by johnwhays

December 15, 2015 at 7:00 am