Monday, November 16, 2009

Ida: All That Rain Last Week

In September of 1989 Hurricane Hugo blew through Charlotte NC, leveling trees, cutting power, and to young me, creating the greatest jungle gym he would ever see.

Flipping through the T.V. channels as a growing boy, the channels I flipped through included TNT for Scooby Doo, PBS for Wishbone, ESPN for sports, and Cable Channel 41, the Weather Channel. During late summer and fall, my days revolved around the Tropical Update at the :50 of every hour. I envied the cue-ball head of Jim Cantore as he stood in the midst of 120 mph winds, lusted after the opportunity to stand a foot deep in a horizontal, driving snow.

So, when I became aware of Tropical Storm Ida churning in the Gulf of Mexico last week, I kept a casual eye on the reports. I read that, once making landfall, the winds would bring it towards the Carolinas. I also read that as it did so, it would team up with a low pressure system off of the southeastern coast, creating a two-fold storm, the swirling comma of a Nor'Easter.


As everyone with a pulse now knows, it wound up raining a ton last week, whether you were in the Appalachians, piedmont or coastal plain. Instinct told you stay cooped up during all that rain. To stay sheltered, warm, lazy, fat. A mini-hibernation. On the other hand, for me, cursed by the Hugo Effect, my urges lay elsewhere. Outside.

As the Flood Warnings were posted, the Wind Advisories issued, I thought of Morgan and Bolin Creek. How fat would they get?

So, what else to do but go find out? The afternoon of November 11th I went out to survey the situation. Here are the photos.

Running southeast out of town, Morgan Creek drains a great deal of the town's runoff. I went to check on it behind Finley Golf Course, along the entrance road to Mason Farm Biological Reserve. Above is the water level, below, a pan of the swollen channel.

As I continued down the road, my trip came to an abrupt halt. The road had become a torrent, as the adjacent beaver pond had jumped its banks, connecting the two bodies of water. Below, a great blue heron spends its time fishing in the road. Its not a road to him! Just more water.

I continued on foot, where I discovered the weir to be way underwater!!!

Looking up from the middle of the road. Below, looking down.

And of course, the casualties. The taming of the shrew.

Why do this? I don't know, and back then I didn't even need to know. But as I ponder it now, I believe part of it is this: There is no greater force, no more dominant power, than what our planet churns.

So what greater thrill can there be, other than to subject yourself, in complete submission, to this power? To immerse yourself in the driving force. How unnecessary thoughts seem when our senses are firing so intensely.

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