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DayCreek Journal

June 13 , 2008

Baby, the Rain Must Fall

The Root River floods again!

Well, here we go again. After the devastation caused by last year's flood I think everyone in the area had enough rain to last a lifetime. Unfortunately we cannot control the weather and in the immortal words of Glenn Yarbrough, "Baby the rain must fall."

Here at Day Creek, it rained 5.63 inches over the weekend and another 1.54 inches last night, which brings the total rainfall for this week to over 7 inches. The rain has brought new floods to the area, but small by comparison to the south in Iowa.

I do wonder how unusual are these floods? We commonly hear that a particular flood was a 50-year flood, or 100-year flood. The 15 inches of rain that fell last year in a 24-hour period was called a 500-year flood. I wonder how much of what we base our statistics on comes from reliance of records, stories and news articles from only recent history? How accurate is our assessment? In order to know what truly is a 500-year flood, wouldn't we need a detailed account of floods that occurred over thousands of years? I'm sure geologists might be able to give a broad-brush view of the past for a particular area, but how detailed of a study has there been done on the flooding history of the Root River for example?

I did learn something from last year's 15-inch rain. It did some major re-arranging of the hillsides and in doing so revealed an old stream bed that I never knew existed on our land. Tons of smoothed rock, once rounded by a stream now lies scattered across the ground once buried by soil. Obviously at one time, there had to be stream running through that area in order to smooth the rocks.

But what happened to the stream bed? Was it always running or was it only during floods did water flow? Maybe these floods have been a reoccurring theme for thousand and thousand of years?

Since 1996 when we bought the land here in SE MN, the Root River has flooded its banks numerous times to the point where homes/farms have been inundated by water. Is this a signature of a serious change in our climate or is it a natural occurrence or is it caused by human intervention?

The Root River was dredged and channelized many years ago and since that time the river has been slowly filling in with sedimentation. So it would be logical to assume that floods will become more and more frequent as the Root River fills in and begins to return to its normal state prior to man's intervention.

Also, consideration has to be given to the ever growing population. As more people move into a given area, the chances for a natural disaster increase. (You usually don't hear about an unpopulated area being flooded--that's just an act of nature, but if a flood effects a populated area, it is a disaster.)

Are these floods normal or is this truly an unusual series of weather events that may signify climate change? I don't think anyone can say with certainty one way or the other.

What we can say with certainty is that greenhouse gases continue to increase in our atmosphere on a global basis. Maybe the question should be: When we do finally know if we are the cause of global climate change and the answer is yes, will it be too late to do anything about it?

Happy Fourth Birthday Solar Panels!

Can you believe it has been four years since the solar panels were installed? It seems like it was just yesterday. Here how much power the panels have generated over the four year period on an annual basis:

June 2004 to June 2005: 4.60 Megawatts
June 2005 to June 2006: 4.56 Megawatts
June 2006 to June 2007: 4.53 Megawatts
June 2007 to June 2008: 4.41 Megawatts

The stats do show a gradual decrease in the output, but it's too soon to know if it is due to the efficiency of the system gradually decreasing or due to weather conditions from year to year. It will probably take 10 years or so to get a clearer indication of this.

The good news is that the upcoming week should be nice and sunny for the solar panels and hopefully give the Midwest time to dry out!


The flood wasn't bad news for everyone. Great Egrets were having a feeding frenzy in the flooded waters eating everything from fish to frogs to voles. This particular egret dined on an unfortunate Leopard Frog who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.