Rain causes flooding in area 2008.01.16

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Frozen ground. Melting snow. A couple inches of rain.

Bring out the “Water over roadway” signs.

Those signs bloomed last week as creeks overflowed and fields filled with water.

Flood warnings were still posted Sunday at Styker, Ohio, where the Tiffin River (Bean Creek) flowed about two and a half feet above flood stage.island.property.jpg

Upstream toward Morenci, the creek level had decreased to 2.2 feet below flood stage, still flowing far above the average for January or any month of the year.

Conditions changed quite rapidly, said Morenci area climate observer George Isobar, when the temperature warmed and the rain began falling.

“By comparing local climate data with figures from the U.S. Geological Survey, the process unfolds hour by hour,” he said.

The U.S.G.S. maintains a river gauge on the Tiffin River southwest of Morenci. The station is located where Fulton County Road 20 crosses the Tiffin.

“There’s a wealth of information on the U.S.G.S. website for those who have any interest in the rather arcane subject,” Isobar said. “Lots of facts and figures.”

The U.S.G.S. lists the measurement location as Bean Creek at Powers, Ohio—3.5 miles downstream from Silver Creek (at the south side of Morenci) and 5.2 miles east of Fayette.

At this point, the river drains 206 square miles of land. By the time it reaches Stryker, drainage has doubled to 410 square miles.

The river gauge provides a running commentary of water flow.

“At noon Jan. 4, water flow was measured at 145 cubic feet a second (cfs) which is actually below the long-term average for January,” Isobar said.

Data collection began in 1940, leading to a mean flow of 196 cfs for January.

“There was a modest increase 24 hours later to 203 cfs and a little more to 235 at noon Sunday, Jan. 6. A day later, flow had increased to 839 as temperatures rose and snow melted. We had four inches of snow on the ground earlier that week, but there was more standing farther upstream along the Bean.”river.gauge.cmyk.jpg

Water flow tripled by noon Wednesday, Jan. 8, after 1.37 inches of rain fell, reaching 2,340 cfs. The water depth rose two feet in five hours time and already exceeded the 15-foot flood stage.

“Don’t think that means the creek was 15 feet deep,” Isobar said. “That isn’t how the gauge works.”

The gauge height measured by the U.S.G.S. equipment does not actually determine the depth of the river. Instead, it determines how high the water surface stands above a predetermined level in the measuring equipment.

At typical flow, the Tiffin gauge remains at around 9.5 feet. Therefore, a rise of 5.5 feet is needed to reach flood stage.

Another eight-tenths of an inch of rain fell last Wednesday afternoon and evening and the maximum gauge depth of 18.87 feet was reached at 6:30 p.m. that day—9.4 feet deeper than an average day. The maximum flow was also recorded then, with 3,840 cubic feet of water flowing under the bridge every second.

“There was a pretty steady decrease after that,” Isobar said. “Flow was back to 2,000 cfs by Friday afternoon and the river dipped below flood stage by midnight.”

Flow was down to 800 cfs by mid-morning Sunday and the depth stood at only three feet above the typical height.

High points

The U.S. Geological Service website (www.usgs.gov) provides historical data for the Powers station on the Tiffin River, although data is missing from 1983 through 2000.

Gauge equipment has changed over the years, but the highest level shown in the past quarter century was recorded in March 1982 with a gauge height of 22.7 feet—more than 13 feet above the typical level.

Following are the top flow rates shown. The typical flow of the Tiffin River is less than 200 cubic feet a second (cfs). The maximum flow from the past flood conditions reached 3,840 cfs.

March 1982        4,900 cfs
April 19, 1956    4,250 cfs
May 13, 2002    4,190 cfs
April 5, 1950    3,980 cfs
Feb. 10, 2001    3,860 cfs
Jan. 8, 2008    3,840 cfs
Jan. 13, 2005    3,650 cfs
May 18, 1945    3,650 cfs
May 12, 1943    3,560 cfs
April 6, 1947    3,290 cfs
June 27, 1978    3,240 cfs
  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.soccer.balls
    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016