A blog about a first-time house owner learning to maintain his backyard, and thoughts about nature, science, history, and life.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 8-9 Flash Floods: Stewart Park and Ithaca Falls

After checking out the flash flooding around Freeville, I drove down Route 13 to Stewart Park at the foot of Cayuga Lake for some more photos.  I was surprised to see that there were other folks there, even though it was raining at a pretty good clip during the short drive down the hill.  The raindrops were small, so I'm guessing that it was what we call "warm rain", which you often see in the tropics and occasionally here in the mid-latitudes, with the right conditions.  The raindrops form in air that is above freezing, and colliding and coalescing with each other in the cloud - it's called "collision-coalescence".

A couple of things surprised me.  First, considering all the rain we'd had the previous night, the water in the lake was surprisingly still quite blue.  I imagine that it will be turning brown with all the sediment that will be washing into it over the next few days.  The other surprise was the very low level of the cloud base...almost down to the lake's surface!  The clouds certainly hadn't been quite that low in Freeville before I left!  The ducks in the photos below seemed to be enjoying the rainy weather.

Out over the lake, the clouds reached pretty much all the way to the surface:

But over land, the clouds were more elevated:

From Stewart Park I headed maybe a mile down the road to Ithaca Falls on the aptly-named Fall Creek (which also flows behind my house farther upstream).  I stopped at the bridge on Lake Street to take a picture of the swollen creek.

Then I crossed the road, faced the falls, and snapped a shot.  They were roaring!

A storm sewer was dumping the recent rains directly into the creek.  Point sources like this can add a lot of water in a short amount of time...it's like another small creek being dumped into Fall Creek.  This is why water retention areas are so important!

Even the small cataracts on the cliffs were running with water.  Normally they are dry or merely a drip.

At some point, the water had carved a channel in the path, and now the water had its own path to follow into the creek.

The water had spilled over into what is normally high and dry.  The water was calmer here, with waves moving through.  But in the main body of the creek, the water was raging.

Another dripping cataract.  As I drove around the area, cataracts were running just about everywhere, and a couple on Route 96 north of Ithaca has produced some minor road flooding.

To get as close as I could to the falls, I had to cross a couple of puddles of standing water, one of which was about 3 inches deep.  Socks and sneakers: not a good idea.  A day later, they're still wet!

There was an awful lot of water everywhere.  I couldn't get anywhere near as close to the falls as I had during my last visit in the spring.

Those trees in the photo below are normally well clear of the creek.

One last look at Ithaca Falls (and an early sign of autumn).

And, finally, a YouTube video (available in HD!) that strings together a series of shorter videos that I shot at Ithaca Falls:


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