Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two Feet High and Rising

The water is rising here in my part of the Bluegrass for sure!  I live in the western part of Kentucky, which is a very beautiful part of the state because it has many attributes that other parts of the bluegrass has as well.  However, one of the negatives to living in the western part of Kentucky is the fact that the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers converge into the Ohio river and the Ohio converges into the Mississippi river.  All these river cause major problems when we get lots and lots of rain.  What's worse is when other parts of the country get lots of rain upstream from us.  Because of our location and the multiple rivers converging in a very short distance of each other, flooding becomes a very common occurrence.  One of the words floods that was documented and still remembered by some was the great flood of 1937.  

Before TVA came into western Kentucky and built the Kentucky and Barkley Dams, there wasn't much that could be done in the way of flood control.  Once those two dams were built, creating the Kentucky and Barkley lakes, along with other dams built on the river-ways, flooding became a bit more predictable and manageable.  As with anything that is man-made, mother nature can show us that she is the one who is in control.  When excessive amounts of rainfall come, and the lakes fill to the point that the dams can't contain the water and the excess rushes over the closed spillways into the already swollen rivers, we get dramatic floods.

In Paducah, the Tennessee river converges with the Ohio river.  The 1937 flood made a mess of the old downtown portion of Paducah, with water getting high enough to fill the first floor of most of the buildings.  There are reminders of the '37 flood as well as other previous floods still in downtown Paducah today.

Market House - Downtown Paducah, 1937

This is what the market house in downtown Paducah looked like with the '37 flood water.  This building is about one block from the Ohio river.

Market House - Downtown Paducah 2008
This is the same market house building from the above picture as it looks today.  It is currently used as a museum and theater. 

In a couple of places along the riverfront in the downtown area, these high water makers are visible on the original buildings that are still standing since the '37 flood.  If you click on the picture, you can see the highest water level measures 60.8 feet.  The last report that I heard yesterday, the Ohio is predicted to crest at 55 feet by mid-day April 27.  Paducah now has flood walls and gates around the city to help protect downtown from ever getting flooded again, but I believe I heard the news people say yesterday that the flood wall was only rated to 52 feet.
1937 Flood level 60.8 feet

This is a picture taken today of the Ohio river showing the Illinois side of the river.  If you look close at the picture on the right side half-way down, you can see a towboat and a bunch of river barges.  They are actually tied to the river bank and all the other water is flood water. 

The picture below is Paducah which is actually across the river from the picture on the right.

 As I sit here and type, I'm listening to the radio and the local weather service just came on an issued a severe weather/tornado warning for my county and the surrounding counties.  I hope I sleep through all the weather tonight, just like I have the last two rough storms we've had in as many days.

I hope all of my blog friends out there remain safe and secure if any of this global warming weather is headed your way or already past through your area.

Be safe,
Blue Steel

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