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Photo: Snow flood hike

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Our seasons in the Midwest are starting to butt up against one another, sometimes creating an overlap. It has been said that our area is graced with five seasons, but the grim reality is three of them are winter. There is also spring and fall, but each of those are only half seasons. They don’t last too long, maybe a few weeks apiece. That gets us to four so far, and the remaining season is what we like to call flood-nado, which brings us all the excitement of damaging winds and the predictability of river flooding.

snow flood selfie


Such was the case last weekend when I ventured outdoors for my annual autumn walk to Bullfrog Bayou. Catch some fresh air, admire the turning of the leaves, maybe spot some wildlife stocking up for the winter. Before I arrived at the parking lot, I had to switch on my windshield wipers to brush aside the light, fluffy snowflakes. Once I took to foot, I had to wade across a low point in the path leading up to the proper trail, a raised ridge that had once been train tracks and still boasted the occasional railway infrastructure rusting away.

Either side of the trail was a now a submerged forest, snowflakes hitting the flood waters, churning with orange and golden fallen leaves. A green-headed mallard and his female companion floated past, trying to figure out the weather, probably thinking “what the duck.”

Winter is coming early this autumn, and flood-nado doesn’t want to let go yet.

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Photos: Flood remains

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Road water.

 
The flooding in the inhabited areas around here has subsided, but there are still parts that are underwater.

I eased my car up to the park entrance and tried to comprehend its status. The portable street department barricade seemed to indicate it was closed. But then again, it was half toppled, two of it’s metal legs sprawled on the asphalt, and some of the wood was splintered. 

So I took the chance and followed the road up and over the earthen flood-control berm and descended into the riverside park. At the shelter, I spotted three parked vehicles and few people milling around. It was the weekend, so I was pretty sure they weren’t city workers. If I was entering a restricted area, at least I wasn’t going to be the only one getting in trouble. 

Beyond the shelter, the backwater lake was overflowing, and water covered sections of the walking path.

On down the road I drove until the water began to lap at the pavement, and I pulled over to explore on foot. I didn’t get too far before my shoes found mud. Not your typical soaked earth, this was flood river mud. It had a fine, smooth consistency, smelled like rotting fish and clung to everything it touched. 

Perhaps the barricades weren’t to keep us from danger but were to save us from the muck and the stench.

trail water.

Canyoneering deaths in flash flood

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Strong storms claimed the lives of three members of a canyoneering party at Zion, and four others are missing. Here’s the latest from the National Park Service.

Three Canyoneering Fatalities, Four Others Missing in Zion National Park

Sept. 15, 2015

Rangers at Zion National Park in Utah received a report of a group of seven people canyoneering in Keyhole Canyon shortly before the flooding began Monday, Sept. 14. Their unoccupied vehicles were located on Monday evening and a search began the morning of Tuesday, Sept.15 when it was determined that these individuals had not exited the canyon.

Of the seven individuals involved, three fatalities are confirmed and the remaining four are missing. Names are not being released at this time, pending notification of kin. As the search continues for the missing hikers, high water levels and continued rain showers pose further flash flooding concerns and have hampered searchers’ access to the technical portions of the canyoneering route.

According to the National Park Service, storms arrived between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m Monday and dropped 0.63” in Zion Canyon in one hour. As a result of these local storms, flash flooding occurred in the park including Keyhole Canyon.

Keyhole Canyon is a short, narrow slot canyon located on the east side of Zion National Park. A permit is required for traveling through Keyhole Canyon and individuals must complete several short rappels under 30 feet and swim through several pools of water.