Summer arrived late on the West coast but, like a favoured house-guest, once Summer showed up it opted not to leave until well past the expected end of its visit. August and September received trace amounts of rain, and on the Wet, West coast, those halcyon days of summer usually bring 120 mm of rain along with it, this year however, the cumulative rain for those 60 days instead hovered near 5mm.
That’s a major lack of precipitation… during the soggy Spring the farms looked more like swamps and flood zones than fields, but the eventual emergence of a glowing, shining, blazing ball of fire coaxed the vegetation to grow and grow – the pumpkins dotting the Laity Pumpkin Patch in a mass profusion, and Chilliwack corn farmers are still pulling cobs off their plants.
Last week, the high pressure dome finally gave way and the rains returned with a vengeance.
Overnight, the sluggish, burbling backwater North Alouette River found its voice, its current and its fury. Remember how I said that the amount of rainfall was about… 115mm short for the previous two months? Well, from Saturday to Sunday over 150mm of rain fell in sheets as the North Alouette woke up, as it all the other multitude of rivers in the Lower Mainland.
Burbling brooks became fast-flowing torrents.
I suspect the ground was so dry for so long, combined with all the construction, meant that the hard-packed earth couldn’t absorb the much needed water fast enough, sluicing instead into the run-offs and streams and the rivers rose in a hurry.
North of 132nd Street in Maple Ridge, the North Alouette burst its banks and flooded the road, forcing the municipality to close it to all traffic. Given the amount of traffic that now lives and drives North of 132nd to get to their sub-divisions that sprawl across Silver Valley, that meant a spike in traffic along 132nd, as well as a lot of surprised drivers since this is the first flood in a few years and many of them are new residents.
That ford where I took Nolan so he could play in the sand, as well as the rocky islet we tromped across during our explorations disappeared under the deluge. The river climbing precariously up the banks of my parents’ property, going from just enough water for Dad to fall into, to scrabbling eight feet up the bank.
Luckily, despite the onslaught, the family didn’t need to bust out the sandbags or fire up the wet-vacs as we have in the past.
However, those lazy days by the river are over for another year.
The river will drop to a less muddy, murky and malevolent level.
On the upside, the salmon which had remained downstream are now swimming upstream to spawn.
As the seasons continue to change.