Nothing like this weekend

Very much unlike the snow and bitter temperatures of this weekend, a mere seven days ago presented a very different picture, one not atypical like the present.  Rather, last weekend brought with it spring thunderstorms the likes of which we in Texas expect this time of year.

With hail, tornadoes, damaging winds, and torrential, flooding rain, two nights of the tempest’s visits left us with a very different landscape than the one we had a week before it and the one we have a week after it.

The local floodplain under quite a bit of water with trees standing upon the temporary lake (181_8137)

Certainly not frozen as it had been in mid-January, the floodplain last Saturday morning looked more like it does in most springs (excepting our recent multi-year drought, of course).  Trees normally in the middle of a field lying abreast one of the major creeks found themselves under a significant amount of water, their contact with the ground hidden beneath the leftovers from two nights of hellacious deluges.

A very full spillway runoff from the lake (181_8144)

Despite a massive amount of water moving over the spillway and heading downstream, so much so that it flooded most of the minor islands resting in the middle of the runoff zone, the abundance of water failed to reach the cataclysmic levels from just over a year ago.  So much rain fell during those three days that it overflowed the retaining wall and took with it much of the supporting earth that held up a major thoroughfare and part of the trail circumscribing the lake park.  Due to the significant damage caused by that series of storms, a major part of the biking and walking trail near the spillway remains closed as traffic is diverted to a temporary path built quite a distance from the water’s edge.  Much to-do is ongoing with regards to what should be done in order to restore the retaining wall and spillway area to its prior condition.

Looking at the spillway from the new temporary trail removed from the damaged retaining wall (181_8163)

Although the spray was still visible from the new vantage point provided by the temporary route so far removed from the damaged retaining wall, before last spring’s damage I would have been able to stand directly against that fence to snap even better photos of where the artificial runoff zone meets with the original and natural creek.  Despite the distance, though, you can still see that a great deal of water was moving down the spillway and heading off downstream.  When the wind blew just right, multiple rainbows appeared in the spray and, at least standing in that position, a bit of the cool water could be felt as it wafted across the walking trail.

Looking down the spillway as a mass of water rushed downstream (181_8181)

It’s hard to appreciate from that view precisely how much water was rushing downstream as it toppled over the lake damn and hurried along the spillway.  I can tell you enough water moved by quickly such that it would easily have swept an adult off their feet and carried them in tumultuous arms to a very wet and dangerous drop nearer the creek.  And the sound was spectacular, a rough, heavy, forceful breathing that sounded like one continuous exhale from giant lungs, a rumble and roar that could be felt as much as heard.

Looking across the spillway runoff toward Garland Road (182_8216)

When finally I reached the other side of the spillway, I found the security gate had been opened by someone.  I would never have considered crossing the safety barrier had it been closed, yet I didn’t hesitate to walk back through thick brush and verdant woodlands to snap a photo or two since that forbidden path had somehow been made available.  Standing upon the edge of the embankment where the water’s spray and overwhelming voice seemed to control the whole world, I felt somewhat in awe at the sheer force of the rushing torrent as it swept past me on its way toward the Gulf of Mexico, a journey that would span hundreds of miles and a great deal of the state of Texas.

Do know I have many other photographs and what I hope to be one or more presentable videos from this walk.  There was so much to see and experience that day.  My intention is to share more of that with you in the near future.

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