Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Summer of Water Everywhere

Seems like every time I turn around there is an article about water or the weather. My schooling is in hydrogeology (underground water) and my interests have long had to do with hydrology (surface water), so I pay attention to the wet stuff. Last year (2012) was a drought here in sunny SoWi. To my eye it did appear that way, with many ponds that I had only ever seen at a high level, relatively speaking, starting to show big new islands and large mud flats. So 2013 comes along. Decent enough snow year and then an incredibly wet first six months.
One of my first thoughts is always whether or not the sandbars are getting washed away on the Wisconsin River. I don't know, but if they are I imagine new sand is always being created and washed down to replenish the stuff on its way to the delta down in Louisiana.
This is a wet year by any measure, but the river seems to be plugging along in fairly normal fashion. It looks to me like the sandbars s/b out and available. It's just a matter of me being out and available. Here are some looks at the water data for this year. Pay attention to the left side axis as the units might change from graph to graph.
2013 Spring and Summer water levels
Big spring and a few big events, but levels are dropping fast as the dry months come along.

But how does 2013 stack up alongside 2012? or the preceding years for that matter?
Our current wet year suddenly does not seem so wet when viewed alongside the past few years.

And then there is rain fall.
WAY above the average at least for the records from 1981 and onwards.

Certainly compared to last year cumulative rain fall is vastly different

Then again looking at things over a hundred year span:
Now things seem pretty normal. In fact to my eye, the 1880 water year seems larger than anything else by a good measure, with 2006ish coming in a distant second place.
What's it all mean? It still rains, the river still flows and I love paddling!