So, just how big was the October 2013 flood?
A non-tropical rain event brought between 5.5 and 8.3 inches of rain to the Floyd’s Fork watershed over the past weekend (10/5/13 – 10/6/13). This event brought the Fork up and over its banks in most places, resulting in a peak flow of 14,900 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the Fisherville Gauge. To place this peak flow in some context with other rivers, the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon was running at 9,000 cfs this past weekend. The New River at Fayetteville,WV (the Gorge section famous for its whitewater) was running at 3,600 cfs.
Even at the Fork’s high level over the weekend, this event only ranks as the fourth largest flood in the past decade. The all-time recorded flood event in Floyd’s Fork was in 1997 when it reached an amazing 17.39 feet carrying over 42,000 cfs. Want another comparison? That rate of flow is DOUBLE the average freshwater flow of the Hudson River in New York City (21,000 cfs). These events demonstrate that while Floyd’s Fork is a relatively small stream, the amount of water it can carry is large, and its floods can have enormous power.
The impact of flood events and flood debris is built into The Parklands 100 year landscape plan. The high water deposits silt in riparian corridors where freshly planted trees and shrubs use the nutrients to support new growth resulting in a richer, more diverse, forest. So, while you may look over a messy creek bank over the next couple of months, know that this mess makes for a great forest and riparian corridor system in the future.
This past weekend’s flood event was significant for The Parklands as it marked the first time that a variety of the constructed designed infrastructure (park roads, Louisville Loop, trails, paddling access sites) were impacted by high water conditions. Thanks to great engineering, and a commitment to the highest quality in design and building materials, all of the park’s storm and flood water management systems worked as designed and no significant damage was experienced.