Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The gullywhumper

One of my favorite words is "gullywhumper."Apparently this is a regionalism or idiom or slang, since I can't find it in any standard dictionary. Not sure where I heard it in the first place, but it means a storm that dumps a huge amount of rain.

We had one of those yesterday afternoon.

All summer long, we've had daily showers or thundershowers, intermittent or steady; and when not doing that, the weather hass been hot and sticky.


Our wet season has been object of envy for the regions suffering extreme heat, drought, and fire. Can't say much to that, other than wherever one lives, one has one's own weather crosses to bear.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon's storm unleashed 5+ inches of rain in about 40 minutes -- massively overloading the drainage capability of the landscape. Result: Road washout. Pond overflow. Well drowning. Plumbing muckage. Driveway scouring. Normality disruption for the rest of the day.

All that in our dooryard; then out on the main road, mudslides and property destruction. In other words, a honking great mess, on par with the damage generated by Hurricane Irene two summers ago.

The big difference is that this storm was local -- neighborhood vs. state -- so that our little dead-end road was first on the repair list instead of last. Nice change of pace for us, and a relief for the state as a whole.

Here's what it looked like in the first hour afterward:

What you're seeing is where the town road meets the bottom of our driveway. High on the right is the entry of the dry streambed designed for runoff, now so full that it jumped the (blocked) culvert and sliced down the side of the road (1-3 feet deep) instead of under it, then washed across it (6-9 inches deep) to deposit all the removed road surface material into our pond, out of sight on the left.

Out of sight on the right, about where the tree disappears into the ferns, is our well. The downstream flood was so intense that it ran through the woods and flooded the well and lifted its 8x4 plywood lid, dumping it into the stream that normally feeds the pond, and filling the well with muck.

Good thing we have lots of filters in our plumbing, else this flow would have gunked up the whole house. As it was, the filters had 1/8" of glop completely encasing them.

By next morning, the town road crew had patched it all back together, but town budget won't allow replacing the damaged, too-small culvert and engineering the drainage correctly. Thus, this will continue to happen every few years whenever we have a Weather Event.

Our tax dollars at work: solving or ignoring problems intead of preventing or fixing them. At least we could get out!

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