My First Mountain Flood

The county’s public schools closed early yesterday due to safety concerns over widespread flooding.

After an incredibly dry August and September, nature is repaying her water debt with interest.

My rain gauge measured 3.5 inches of rain over the weekend.  On Monday and Tuesday we got another 4.5.

During a break in the rain my daughter and I walked down to see how high our closest creek’s waters were.

I suppose my preconceptions of the steepness of land and the lack of hurricane conditions (lived on the Gulf Coast for eight years) lead me to believe the flooding had been overstated in classic TV weather prediction (think “Snowmageddon”) fashion.

I was wrong.  Even as a seasoned nature lover and Master Naturalist, it seems I must continually re-learn Mother Nature’s most basic lesson:  do not underestimate her.

It does flood in the mountains, and I’ve never been more grateful to live at the top of a hill.

Here are some photographs from our walk:

This is an extremely high water level for Hethwood Pond. Normally there's several more feet of grass and then a few feet of large rock above the surface of the pond.

This is an extremely high water level for Hethwood Pond. Normally there’s several more feet of grass and then a few feet of large rock above the surface of the pond.

Our neighborhood pond may be small, but the number of creatures to be seen there certainly isn't!

This picture of the same pond (from a different angle) shows what the water level normally looks like.

This is the overflow from our neighborhood pond. It's usually dry as a bone, or maybe just a trickle. The rain made it a rushing waterfall.

This is the overflow from the pond. It’s usually dry as a bone, or maybe just a trickle. The rain made it a rushing waterfall.

Overflow from the Hethwood pond flows down toward Stroubles Creek by means of an overgrown ditch, so small a stream that, as far as I know, it doesn't even have a name. That stream got about 10x bigger today.

Overflow from the Hethwood Pond flows down toward Stroubles Creek by means of an overgrown ditch, so small a stream that, as far as I know, it doesn’t even have a name.

Here you can see that the little no-name drainage stream has risen to cover the walking path.

Here you can see that the little no-name drainage stream has risen to cover the walking path.

The tiny no-name stream has grown to flow over part of the path that is usually at least 4 feet above it.

The tiny no-name stream has grown to flow over part of the path that is usually at least 4 feet above it.  The water was ankle deep, enough for Abbey to pretend to surf.

This is that same path 35 minutes later and the water is still about three times its usual height.

This is that same spot 35 minutes later and the water is still about three times its usual height.

The walking and biking path takes a steep drop (really tough to get back up after a long ride) down to the bridge over Stroubles Creek. This is the view from the midpoint on that hill. Usually you can't even see the creek from here.

The walking and biking path takes a steep drop (really tough to get back up after a long ride) down to the bridge over Stroubles Creek. This is the view from the midpoint on that hill. Usually you can’t even see the creek from here.

This picture was taken earlier this summer, too.  It's from the "secret" spot on Stroubles Creek where my daughter and I go to explore and splash, about 100 yards upstream from the bridge.

This picture was taken earlier this summer, too. It’s from the “secret” spot on Stroubles Creek where my daughter and I go to explore and splash, about 100 yards upstream from the bridge.  For comparison, the floodwaters would be well over her head and into the pasture behind her.

Note the water level next to the high voltage box.

Here’s the water in the pasture.  Note the water level next to the high voltage box.  Compare it to the next picture.

This photo shows the same area earlier this summer.  The high voltage box in the lower left corner.

This photo shows the same area earlier this summer. The high voltage box in the lower left corner.

This bridge usually sits five to six feet above the surface of Stroubles Creek. The creek has risen to meet it.

This bridge usually sits five to six feet above the surface of Stroubles Creek. The creek has risen to meet it.

This field lies between the walking path and the drop off down to the creek. It's a great place where students living just up the hill in the town homes gather to barbecue and play frisbee. More importantly, it's a floodplain.

This field lies between the walking path and the drop off down to the creek. It’s a great place where students living just up the hill in the town homes gather to barbecue and play frisbee. More importantly, it’s a floodplain.

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2 thoughts on “My First Mountain Flood

  1. Pingback: Deerfield Trail – Early Autumn. | Birch Nature

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