The flooding saga continued with another major flood almost comparable to the February 28th flood. With the ground saturated and heavy rains from the sky, the Beaver Creek once again rose to extremely high levels as evidenced in the photos below.
Beaver Creek in flood stage as it enters the floodplains. The channel it has formed on the left is indicative of where the Creek will flow after it eventually erodes through and abandons the curve on the right, creating an oxbow feature. The Creek currently flows in the right channel most of the time.
The Beaver Creek Watershed, just like other Northern Ohio watersheds, has been experiencing a lot of high water and flooding throughout the past few week. We are continuing to monitor the situation as information becomes available.
Below are photos from March 5 after the Flood on February 28, 2011, showing Beaver Creek rising once again.
A creek will naturally move from side to side, within the confines of its floodpain, over many years. However, the rate at which it moves and erodes the banks on each side, can be influenced by land use within the watershed. Below we see a photo of a riffle in the Beaver Creek at the Historic Shupe Homestead Wildlife Preserve property, where these recent major floods (most notably of Feb. 2008 and 2011) have caused an unusually high rate of erosion of the banks; the creek is marching to the left in the photo. Furthermore, with an average drop of 19.1 feet/mile, the erosion can be dramatic even with less flow.
March 1, 2011 Update from the Beaver Creek Watershed:
After what Lorain County Commissioners deemed a “state of emergency” and officials say is the worst storm in 20 years, everyone affected by the latest storm is working to dry out today. Leaving the Homestead this morning, I was surprised to note that Beaver Creek is once again back within the confines of its banks and is no longer spreading across its floodplain. It is interesting to think how fast the land drained and how much water has now been deposited into the Lake.
There are some key reasons why this quick and “efficient” drainage takes place. In the southern portion of the Watershed, where land use is largely agricultural, farm fields are drained through early feeder streams that eventually make up and form Beaver Creek. To efficiently drain the farmland, these streams have been dredged and cleared of material so that they can freely flow. This is good for the farmland, but can be devastating to land farther north. These dredged channels will allow the land to drain more quickly and efficiently, but that means more water and more power is on its way north! Furthermore, many old wetlands that used to let the water sit and percolate into the ground are no longer present in the southern portions of the Watershed as these areas have been drains for productive farming operations.
In the midsection of the Watershed, land use shifts to residential, and we see lots of impervious surfaces – areas composed of concrete, asphalt, rooftops, parking lots, etc – areas that also do not let waters slowly percolate through the ground. Here we again see a rapid runoff situation of storm water.
Finally, in the north, near the mouth, where old wetland complexes that used to deal with fluctuations in Lake Erie and Beaver Creek flows are no longer present. A marina is now located at the mouth of Beaver Creek, which allows the water to quickly flow from the channel out into the Lake. Therefore, we have identified several key factors showing why we see major flooding events one day (quick drainage), and then the next day the Creek has receded back within the confines of its channel.
Driving into Oberlin today, I noticed that much of the standing water has turned to ice as cooler temperatures have made their way into the region. Much of the water that would have continued to drain into the watercourses has now become locked up as ice and is awaiting warmer temperatures to begin flowing again. I just hope that those warmer temperatures do not bring further rainfall! According to NOAA, rain is expected Friday into Saturday once again, which could certainly complicate matters.
February 28, 2011 Update from the Beaver Creek Watershed:
Beaver Creek crested above the level that my photos indicate from this morning – of course I was not here to witness it, but I am told it was quit an event to see it get that high. The Creek is now just a bit lower, but basically comparable to how it was this morning. There is a lot of sediment and sewage being deposited and a lot of erosion occurring. This is where we can see land use is certainly an actor in how the Creek reacts to an event such as this.
Aspects such as the proximity of development to watercourses (that is how riparian areas are used), how floodplains are used, how homes, residential lots, and farm fields are drained, and many other factors contribute to how Beaver Creek can deal with an event such as the one that took place today – a thunderstorm during wintertime. Of course, many of the aspects that would remediate flooding and cut down on turbidity levels, are “dormant” during this time of the year. Natural, native vegetation established within floodplains and along riparian buffer strips along Beaver Creek aren’t functioning in the wintertime. That is one reason why the flooding was that much more devastating.
Education for landowners, and empowering them with the tools to not only have less of an impact on the Beaver Creek Watershed but also to save their land from eroding away, are some of the best tools available to deal with these situations. So, if you are a landowner along a watercourse and want to do something more for your property, feel free to check out my website: www.newindianridgemuseum.org and click on the “Beaver Creek Watershed” tab to learn more…..there are pictures and a fact sheet that you can print and refer to as often as needed.