23 June 2012

An unexpected danger of driving in a flooded area

Probably everyone is familiar with the risk of floodwaters lifting or pushing a vehicle when the vehicle enters deep water, but a different danger (and one new to me) was made evident during this past week's floods in Duluth.

As the city received a summer's worth of rain - nine inches - in one storm, the water cascaded down hillsides and roads, running beneath the pavement to undermine the support for the asphalt.  So even where there's not an visible washout or pothole, driving can be hazardous.

You learn something every day.

The flooding, btw, also wiped out a year or two's worth of steelhead trout from the area's rivers and streams because of habitat destruction and heavy sediment load in the water.


  1. you don't have to tell me twice about the danger of driving a flooded street.

    a number of years ago four people i knew where driving down main street of a town not too far from here.

    there was some water flowing across the road.

    only one of the people in that car lived.

    hard lesson.

  2. And this is why municipalities need to upgrade their drainage systems, especially for the older development areas, where the sewer system is undersized and there is rarely a well defined overland flow path.

  3. You can see the power of the phenomenon in this video from 2008 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_uqPR4Ir5o

    It starts getting interesting at about 1:30 and then you see the culvert get removed at about 2:47.

    1. Wow, that was astonishing. You know there's real problems in the first thirty seconds when a large tree falls over - and gets sucked UNDERNEATH the road.


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