We’ll begin by commenting that I am, in fact, a bad blogger. My only explanation is that it has been a long, weird winter and I was tucked into my den warmly snoozing away below ground. That is until two weeks ago when my cozy hovel filled with frigid, muddy water and I was forcefully evicted.
We ended 2016 with an annual total of 12.66 inches of rain according to our local dryland experiment station but received 6.77 inches in December, January, and February alone. It was a whole mess of ICE. Ice covered roads, ice covered cars and animals and people and roofs (you get it). Ice for miles. Schools were cancelled and delayed on an irregular basis. The sheer act of getting to the chicken coop nearly required skates. I didn’t love it and neither did the chickens.
Cut to February 16th (the date of my eviction), our spring melt off of snow and the aforementioned ice began with a roar. Many of our already saturated roads destabilized, our coulees filled with muddy water, and a fast moving melt cut large washouts into fields, ditches, and coulees. A sum of 100 gravel and paved roads closed around the county, the Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency, and (most notably) one man lost the road from beneath his car and dropped 15 feet into a coulee.
Take a second. You read that, right? The ROAD disappeared.
Even today, two weeks later, the county website is still reporting more than 120 road closures or restrictions. Our own road beyond our house is restricted. It's hard to image the damage a quick melt off can do until you see the three foot deep gouges. The entire McElroy Coulee should have a blinking neon sign reading “Closed for Winter (and water).” For a place that survives on about 10” of rain per year, this has been wild, wooly, and wet weather.
Side note: if you happen to see a county road employee, give them a hug. It’s been a tiresome few weeks and their spring work is going to last through September.