Sunday, May 2, 2010
Yesterday morning, the first Saturday in May, was Kentucky Derby day. I made the spearmint syrup for mint juleps on Friday, so it was ready for the crushed ice and good Kentucky bourbon. It rained here ALL day, and with the thunder and lightning, I wasn't sure we'd even dare to keep the TV on for the Derby. Well, wouldn't you know it, just as the horses entered the track, the skies cleared and the sun actually came out, just in time for 150,000 people at Churchill Downs to begin singing, "The sun shines bright on the old Kentucky home." The chills went up my spine as they always do when I hear that song, and the eyes began to well up. How many people are lucky enough to live in a state where most people actually KNOW their state song? "Pine Tree State" -- come on! I taught history and I don't think I could have named that as Maine's state song.
Anyway, after furiously debating which of the 20 horses to bet (internet gambling on horse races is legal in Kentucky), I finally placed my bets. Only one of the five came in, but it did profit me about $56 above what it cost to bet! Plus the excitement of actually winning money on the Kentucky Derby!
After the race, the evening was spent on the Internet, tracking storm after storm after storm, and listening to the relentless rain. We didn't get a great deal of thunder or lightning overnight, but at 3:46 AM the weather radio went off with a "Tornado Warning" (re my earlier post this morning). It went off twice more, about every hour, and finally I decided to stay up. The scanner was busy this morning with reports of blocked and flooded roads, some of which we are familiar with, a boat evacuation a bit over a mile west of here, and reports of US-68 in Perryville down to one lane in most places, an blocked in one place. Yet people were STILL driving through flood waters to get to CHURCH! I mean, good Christians certainly want to meet their Lord, but should they help things along by being really stupid?
Barry and I decided to go out for breakfast, and survey the countryside. We did find a bit of water over the road in two places, but we know the road well, and knew it was not more than an inch or two, and it was not flowing quickly. On the way home, we passed Clark's Run, normally a little, mostly dry, 2-foot wide stream. It was maybe 50 feet wide in places, with brown, roiling water that cascaded over rocks on its way to Dix River. We got home just fine.
Then, as we were watching the rain cascade down like someone dumped giant buckets over us, something must have let go. We have two farm ponds across the main road from our driveway, and the neighbor's pasture to our east normally has the small, quiet Salt River flowing through it -- again, we can step across it most of the time, and there's seldom more than 2-3 inches of water in it. Well by last night, it had become another raging torrent, water moving maybe 15 miles per hour, brown, muddy, dangerous.
This afternoon, I looked out over the pasture and saw another whole river, maybe 50 feet wide, about 200 feet closer to us than usual. Seems where the Salt runs under the neighbor's driveway, something must have gotten blocked, or there was a sudden torrent of water, and it was now running directly across the pasture, parallel to our driveway.
On the Google photo, we're "A", the farm pond is "B" (at least we THINK this might be the one, though there's another further up the road which could have collapsed), the orange line is the Salt River, and the green line is the "new" and hopefully temporary Salt River.
Luckily, we were in between storms, so Barry and I went out and got loads of photos and video of this -- hopefully we won't see anything like this for a long while -- and we were more lucky than many around here, and IMMENSELY LUCKIER than many in Tennessee.
A bucket on the side porch had 8-3/8 inches in it at mid-afternoon. It now has more than 10 inches. That's our normal rainfall for TWO MONTHS -- and that's since yesterday morning. Parts of Tennessee and Elizabethtown, KY (about 40 miles west of here) have had 15, so frankly, we're not too far behind. Tragically, two people in Kentucky have drowned in flood-related incidents, one east of Lexington, and one near Bowling Green. A dam on a small lake in Edmonson, about 40 miles southwest of here, is expected to give way at any time, so it's not over, by a long shot.
Jim Cantore, of the Weather Channel, on driving from Louisville to Nashville reported that Interstate-65 was in bad shape in many places. In places, it's impossible to exit the highway because the down ramps lead to flooded roads. Have you seen the photos of I-24 in Nashville flooded, with tractor trailers and dozens of cars floating? That road will be out of commission for quite a few days, and it's the main highway from Chattanooga to Nashville to Paducah.
Speaking of Paducah, here's the water that will pass that city in the Ohio River in the coming days. Keep in mind that many of these rivers are, or will soon be, at flood stage:
1. Part of western New York
2. Most of western Pennsylvania, the Allegheny and Monongahela (which form the Ohio at Pittsburgh)
3. Extreme western Maryland
4. Most of West Virginia, the Kanawah and Big Sandy
5. The southern half of Ohio, lots of small rivers
6. The southern three-quarters of Indiana, the Wabash
7. All of Kentucky, including our little Salt River, the Green, Kentucky, and the Cumberland Rivers
8. A small piece of southwestern Virginia
9. Part of western North Carolina
10. Parts of northern Georgia
11. A little corner of northeastern Mississippi
12. All of Tennessee east of Memphis, the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers
13. The northern third of Alabama, the Tennessee River
At Paducah, the Cumberland and Tennessee join the Ohio, and a few miles downstream, the Ohio joins the Mississippi.