The road to Willow House crosses our little river before turning sharply left and following the riverbank to the house. The river, the headwaters of the South Nation River, is usually little more than a creek, but it responds rapidly to increased inflow from rain or snowmelt. The year before we moved to Willow House, the culverts that carry the stream beneath the road were all replaced with larger and more numberous culverts. The new culverts have always been sufficient to contain the stream’s most active flow.
That all changed on Tuesday. With a few mild days, our extensive snow cover has been melting rapidly, and on Monday night a heavy rain supplemented the snowmelt. The engorged river overwhelmed the culverts and began creeping across the road.
RailGuy moved a vehicle to the far side of the bridge so that we wouldn’t be trapped, and then we watched with fascination as the river continued to rise across the day. The water never exceeded 6 or 8 inches in depth over the road, and we were able to walk to the other side, but the power of the flow was impressive. The current soon began to erode the gravel on the roadway. The line of rills along the road mark the edge of excavations in the gravel.
Whirlpools marked the spots where water was being sucked into the culverts below the surface.
By Wednesday morning, the flow over the road had fallen to a trickle and we were able to survey the damage the water had done.
Viewing the effects of just a few inches of water flowing over 24 hours gave me a much more visceral understanding of the forces that must have created the Grand Canyon! Here’s Pookie, looking over the main channel the flood grooved into the road, about a foot deep.
On Thursday morning, workers from the Township arrived with several loads of gravel and a tractor to repair the damage.
It didn’t take them long to tidy things up and we were able to drive over the bridge again.
This Friday morning, the river is still flowing strongly, and is higher than the culverts, where whirlpools are still swirling. But it’s well below road level, and ice-free.
Here’s a short video of the river in full flood on Tuesday afternoon.