We’ve had multiple tropical storms move up through New England this summer, but Ida–which blew through last night and today–was by far the most memorable. The remnants of the storm brought high winds and sheets of rain that dumped multiple inches of water on our community. And that impact doesn’t even compare to the chaos that Ida produced in New York City, according to news reports.
The amount of rain associated with tropical storms is impressive. I can’t find an official announcement of just how much rain fell in Stonington over the last 24 hours, but it was enough to totally flood our down yard, submerging the beds I’ve created and turning some of the lupines and ferns into underwater greenery, and to convert the drainage ditch on the northern border of our property, which normally carries a small trickle down its narrow channel, into a loud, raging torrent of whitewater.
Fortunately, the ferns and lupines that are planted in the flooded area are hardy and capable of withstanding a water onslaught. It’s going to take a while for the yard to dry out from today’s drenching, however.
Lake Erie is the shallowest of the five Great Lakes. This spring, however, the constant rains have raised the level of the Lake by almost three feet. In some places, like Sandusky, the water levels are the highest that have ever been recorded.
The conditions pose special peril for boaters, in ways you might not expect. The high waters will affect bridge clearances over lagoons and access rivers and is submerging some break walls that would otherwise be visible. And, with increased erosion and trees collapsing into the lake, there is increased risk of debris messing with motors and propellers — all of which means that boaters had better watch it when they are close to shore. And any experienced Lake Erie boater will tell you that the lake is legendary for its sudden storms that can appear in the blink of an eye, whip the water into a frenzy, and, in some instances, put boaters at risk of losing their boat — and their life. The high waters won’t help in that category, either.
One lesson that you learn from reading about the impact of high water levels — there’s not much human beings can do about it, short term. What the communities around Lake Erie need right now is a break in the constant rains and a period of sunshine and warm temperatures to allow evaporation to play its intended role and reduce lake levels back to normal. In short, we need Mother Nature to show us a little mercy.
The Cumberland River flows through downtown Nashville. There’s a little park on the downtown side of the river where you will finds lots of concrete steps, people still shaking off last night’s overindulgence — and a literal high-water mark. It’s hard to believe the river reaches such heights, but in 2010 the Cumberland topped the high-water mark entirely and crested at 51.86 feet, causing catastrophic flooding that swamped the area. The river was a lot lower, thankfully, when we visited yesterday morning.
It has been raining, raining, and raining across Ohio. In Columbus, it has been raining heavily, and virtually non-stop, for more than a day.
Counties across Ohio are under flood watches and flood warnings. With the constant rain, the snow melt, and the saturated ground, excess water is pouring into creeks and rivers. With amazing suddenness, the lazy, picturesque stream that you drive past on your way to work becomes a raging torrent that spills out from its bed. The widening rivers then spread across the nearby landscape, covering the area with sluggish, slow-moving brown water, and when the waters recede they leave everything thickly coated with smelly brown muck. The flooding risks are particularly acute for those to the north who live near Lake Erie, where all moving water flows to the Great Lakes basin, and those to the south who live along the many rivers that drain into the Ohio River. As more and more water flows in, from rain and smaller tributaries, rivers can rise with startling speed, trapping those who are reckless or unwary.
If you want to live by a river in Ohio, you have to be prepared. Flooding is just part of life during the early spring, although some years are worse than others.