It has been a slow week here in the upper reaches of the valley. Much of the activity has been at the Rhythm & Blues Festival, or related to it because of the traffic that constantly came by en route to the concert. It began Wednesday afternoon and peaked probably late Thursday night. Sunday afternoon produced another bulge of vehicles on the highway, this time headed west.
The part of the valley where we live constitutes one of the narrowest places in the upper valley and, at our site, probably the lowest in elevation.
According to old-timer Greydon Patterson, during the big flood of 1948 our speck of turf was under 4 feet of water. Patterson, long deceased, told me he was working on the Winthrop bridge, and living in Mazama. He and other workers drove to the Weeman Bridge, then had to go horseback through our area (West Boesel) up to where the Greggs now live across from Dripping Springs. There they left the horses and drove again into town. Every direction from West Boesel is uphill.
You may wonder what this has to do with anything when the temperatures have been bumping 100 degrees for over a month. It has to do with preparation: While the emphasis now is rightfully focused on evacuating in case of fire, we have been thinking about floods. This was underscored this morning when we got a report from Jay Lucas that the large El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific has warmed the waters some three degrees.
An ordinary El Niño produces higher- than-normal water and air temperatures and precipitation well above average.
Just this past week in southern California there have been heavy rains in the drought-stricken area and more are predicted. A bridge on busy Interstate 10 was washed out and there has been a lot of flash flooding around the southwest. This weather pattern is predicted right through the winter and could manifest itself with inordinately heavy snowfall, which brings us back to the Methow Valley and flood preparation when the snow melts.
I thought I had it all figured out: put emergency stuff in the truck and a car and head for the high ground that surrounds us. But years ago I watched a film showing the front end of an Arizona flash flood as it poured down a wide wash. If it came suddenly, an event like that could make even horses useless. We are in a bowl.
Hopefully, the better warnings of danger that exist today for all manner of property and life threats will be timely enough for escape. If not, and if there is time, my plan is to scramble up Grizzly Mountain, try to avoid the rattlesnakes that also are escaping the flood, and have the means to wait it out. We’re hoping it won’t be necessary.