Farm Life: Creek’s A-Risin’

P1070145Spring in the Appalachian Mountains brings thunder storms.  When a heavy rain falls, we talk about the creeks rising.  Now, my west coast readers may not appreciate the idea of having too much rain.  But, Tuesday, we have five inches in two hours.  This becomes a physics problem down hill.

In our region, the clay soils can absorb about one inch of rain in a day.   Thus, when any amount of moisture greater than one inch flows down hill.   If the ground could have absorbed the first inch of rain that came down, we still had four inches of water collecting.

P1070134Add to that, mountains are sloped.  Those slopes direct those extra inches of water downhill until they run into another slope.  A collection basin here is called a cove.  Basically, these act as funnels, directing all those little streams from each small hollow together into a run.  Thus multiple those four inches of rain by each of a dozen hollows, and pretty soon you have a flash flood.

The majority of this week’s storm fell while we were at work.  We could see the black sheet in the mountains at a distance.  By the time we came around the last set of curves, we saw Baker Run rushing with class VI rapids.  It was not out of its bank, there, but was probably eight feet above its usual sleepy course.

P1070154When we made the last turn onto our lane-and-a-half state road, we saw that the creek was over its banks, across the field and the road.  Being in our Honda Civic, we stopped.  I waded across the 40 feet of channel to verify that it was only about a foot deep and the road bed was still there.  Linda then drove through cautiously.  My boots are still drying out.

We watched the creek, cutting 30 to 50 foot wide sections out of various fields as the state road paralleled it for two miles.  Then, 100 feet from out entrance, the water coming out of our cove was over the road and washed out the culvert.  Half a dozen of us were on one side, and half a dozen neighbors on the other.  Several had four-wheelers, which they used to transport us, and what we unpacked from our car (of course, we had grocery shopped on the way home), across and to our cabin.

P1070157Our dirt roads were more washed out than the state road, mainly because of the culverts that filled with sticks, leaves, silt and rocks.  We spent Wednesday clearing six of those culverts to stop the water from flowing over the road.  The state Department of Transportation brought in truck loads of shale and crusher-run gravel to repair the state road.  We could at least move our Civic from our neighbor’s yard to our roads… but we will not be getting it up to our cabin any time soon.  Guess, the weekenders will be learning what water can do to roads when they come up for their Memorial Day weekends.

P1070123And, if you are wondering, it has been raining most of today again.  Another two to three inches are predicted by morning.  Creek’s A-Risin’

About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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10 Responses to Farm Life: Creek’s A-Risin’

  1. Does this happen every year or are you, like a lot of us, having more extreme weather than usual?

    • hermitsdoor says:

      Both. In the 20+ years that we have had our cabin, three times the state road has washed out. One winter we had 3 feet of snow, followed by thunderstorms and 60F three days later. No stopping that melt off all at once. We had a hurrican go right over us one year, which turned into mostly heavy rain for a day. However, when other landowners want to put in culverts over every wet spot, I ask when they are going to start cleaning the ones we have (we have 16 in the association). A two foot culvert just needs a 26 inch long stick to start backing up. A three foot culvert just needs a 39 inch long branch, etc. We have a four foot, double culvert, and it catches trees trunks floating down with the high water (I’m standing in front of it in one of the photos). On the other hand, I find a lot of great patio rocks in the stream bed, when I’m cleaning it up. Make do or do without 🙂

  2. KerryCan says:

    This happens near here, it seems like every year, although the flash flooding here is just as likely to be a result of ice jams. I hope your rain stops soon!

    • hermitsdoor says:

      We actually had 3 3/4 more rain 2 nights later. With all the sticks and leaves out of the stream beds, none of the culverts that we cleared plugged up. Ice jams are about the same when they pile up behind bridges and culverts. I hope that you have thawed out by now. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Barneysday says:

    What we Californians would give for just a few inches of your excess rain! This is going to be a very nasty year for us, water wise.

    When I worked in Colorado, they also had vicious flash floods. A bit of rain in the mountains created flash rivers that flowed everywhere. Luckily there were open drainage ditches though out the city, and the roads all had strategic dips built in them to help the flow of water out on to the plains.

    Good luck with your digging and drying out.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      In general city planners appear to be more aware of requiring developers to put in catch basins downhill from parking lots and buildings. I have even read about NYC building under-road canal and water reclamation gardens to capture some of the run off. Physics always win though when the volume is greater than the storage capacity. Keep up those Navy showers.

  4. The Vicar says:

    Wow, we don’t get that much rain in a year (recently). I’ve not been out there when the water is running high. How are the mail boxes holding up?

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