03 October 2015

rain, rain, go away, come again some other day

As the astute readers will have deduced from the title, it is still raining eight days later. It is 10:00 p.m. and the rain gauge was just consulted: 3.9 inches more precipitation in the last 36 hours. That brings the total from this eight-day storm to about 18 inches.To be fair, it did not rain last Thursday for several hours -

The rain on Tuesday the 30th was the most damaging since it fell in a torrent, over six inches in under six hours. The ground was fully saturated from the Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday rains and they downpour could only run off. Falling Branch Road could not be traversed as part of it was under swift running water so your narrator never personally witnessed the destruction in town - or photographed it. In over 600 Stratheden Farm posts, all the photos have been mine or the ex-wife's but here is one by the Higgs family, posted on FaceBook, taken from their business in Floyd, T & E Small Engines (a misnomer - that's where I purchased my Yanmar tractor last year). It summarizes Tuesday better than any one single image to pass before my eyes.

Its impossible to determine if this set any records because Floyd county has lacked an official weather observer since the last one was drafted in 1941. Nonetheless, my 85 year old neighbor with an enviously perfect recall, says that August, 1940, was the last time there was such widespread flooding and destruction. Hurricane Hugo caused a great amount of flood damage in September, 1989, but judging by people's memories, not this bad.

Jack Tar and myself have hand shoveled over 6,000 pounds of fresh gravel into the driveway ruts, repairing perhaps 80 feet of over 1,000 feet of damage in the 1,700' drive. We also dug, pulled and cajoled a pickup truck worth of leaves out of two clogged culverts and began to relocate several thousand pounds of gravel swept from the drive and into the drainage ditch, thereby rendering the ditch ineffective. The gravel is brought in the small trailer, 1,000-1,200 pounds per load, its maximum GVW. A loaded five tonne gravel truck could not make it up Falling Branch without chewing up the road and would sink to its axles in the driveway, damaging it fatally (i.e., D6 Catepillar level of repair). The drive is likely to remain too tender for an 8 tonne gravel truck for weeks. The likely scenario will be to have five tonnes of gravel delivered to the head of the driveway and then via front-loader on the tractor plus shovel & rake, repair the pathway.

 In spite of the continual rainfall, Falling Branch Creek has returned to its normal course. Compare these two images taken from the road.

The NOAA forecast prognosticates a wetter than normal October-December. Hmmm. More to come? Probably. Do your utmost to keep your powder dry.

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