The Relentless River

Last week we had a lot of rain — 1.15″ on Tuesday, 0.78″ Wednesday, 0.97″ Thursday, 0.61″ Friday, and 0.38″ Saturday. Our river — the Cacapon — can handle 2″ or so at a time. More than that and the road floods in a number places. In addition, every so often the river decides to show the road who’s boss — either in the case of a single (post-)tropical storm, or, as in this case, a prolonged series of repeating storms:

The WV Division of Highways quickly moved to put up the cones. They also filled in the drainage ditch on the mountain side to make the remaining roadway wide enough for a single lane. Eventually (Weeks? Months? Who knows!) they will rebuild the river bank with riprap gabions. (Now ain’t that a fancy way to say rock-filled wire cages!)

And, as it turned out, we had to go to town for an appointment on Thursday. On our way out around 9 am there was a little water ponding on the road in one spot near the red barn. It was raining lightly but steadily all the way into town, and all the road-side ditches and streams were flowing robustly. We left town around around 12:30 and upon our return, and, not unexpectedly, a High Water sign was up on Capon River Road. Since the only alternatives (the road on the other side of the river, which has its own flash-flooding issues, or back down to another highway then back up to the south end of our road) would have taken an additional 45 minutes at least, I decided to give our road a shot (besides, that’s one reason I bought the new crossover with its high ground clearance last fall!).

There are 3 places of flooding that can be navigated if it is not too bad (and a 4th that, if it is flooded there then the other parts of the road are one with the river). First: down near the Bad Feng Shui House (our own term for it) we got through just fine, about 4″ I’d guess. Second: farther along the straightaway was worse (maybe 6-7″) but, again, made it just fine. Third: at the sweeping corner before the red barn, it looked deeper, but I made the choice to proceed. It was deeper than I had expected, and we made a quite unexpected, impressive, and disconcerting bow wave! The key is steady speed — any sudden changes and you get back-splash swamping. We made it, but not something I’m likely to repeat. Then, a little further on, there was a tree down across the road! 8″ trunk, but with a 5″ branch that was supporting a nice vehicle-sized triangular passageway beneath.

Whew!

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