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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Comparing the recent floods with heavy rains and normal Winter run-off

July 2, 2006

Every Spring our area experiences water run-off from the Winter snow, which usually causes flooding in low laying areas. Being at nearly the top of what is a fairly high mountain range, we do not see any real damaging effects of this run-off – but we surely see the water rushing by. And “the valley” is about ten to fifteen miles from my door step.

From time to time, however, we also see long periods of heavy rains. Usually these are the remnants of much larger tropical storms or hurricanes that already wreaked their havoc with Georgia, Florida, or any of the states that border the Gulf of Mexico.

The bridge after a winter run off

September 2004 – After a fairly heavy rain. 

I remember in September 2004 there was a fairly heavy rain which resulted in a few areas experiencing flash flooding. A flash flood is much different, and in some ways more dangerous than, a normal flood. Flash flooding occurs when a large amount of water falls quickly, sending a surge of water down its usual channels. Sometimes these floods can come very quickly, and usually they end up leaving as quick as they arrived. With a “normal flood”, the water tends to move in a more slow, deliberate, manner.

The amount of water we see in normal Winter run-off, and in heavy rains such as September 2004, are absolutely nothing in comparison with what we saw last week. Not only was there the usual effects of flash floods that occurred, but these occurred many times over the duration of the storm. Large surges of water ran down the rivers, even while the rivers were at flood stage or above. Almost like a flood within a flood.

Heavy rains fell for nearly five full days, which left flooded areas to be submerged in water for days instead of hours. The sheer weight of all this water caused bridges, roads, and even foundations to crack, break, and fall. People lost their lives, not just because of the “surprise” of the rushing waters, but due to the water’s volume and unpredictability.

I guess you could compare the run-off and heavy rains to these recent floods in this manner. If you were to take a bucket of water and pour it on your flower pot, the flowers would be drenched and probably sustain a little damage from the weight of the water – but surely they’d still be alive afterwards. Now take a hose, and put your flower pot in the bottom of that same bucket – turn the hose on and leave it on for five days. I suppose that would be a pretty decent comparison.

I’m not sure why I wanted to draw these comparisons but I think it stems from me being completely ignorant to what others on this planet go through when these types of disasters strike. My property was not effected in this recent flood, but the damages happened close enough to me that my level of respect for these natural disasters has grown. I’m fairly certain that if I’m ever in a situation where my property, or life, is in danger – and warnings are being given – that I will have no trouble heeding them. I’m fortunate enough to be able to learn from the experiences of those around me.

At some point, I’ll gather up the photos of the flooding and put them all in one spot for anyone that is interested in doing the same.

[tags]flood, floods, summer floods, pennsylvania, rain[/tags]