Friday, April 29, 2011

Blossoms, storms, and floods

Note overexposure of flowers.
Note presence of snow a few days later.
Spring is here. Has been here for a while, actually, though Winter didn't want to let go. We were hit with several late snowstorms, including one at the end of March. I have some photos of daffodils in a Guinness bottle on my memory card (impossible to get the settings right for that photo; when the bottle looks good, the flowers are horribly overexposed) followed by photos of a snow-covered landscape.

Cherry blossoms
Forsythia blossoms.  Many have already fallen.

The forsythia came into bloom a week or so ago, along with the cherry trees. The blossoms have started to rain down already. I hope that they have attracted their pollinators and will continue on with their life cycles.

Meanwhile, storms have blown through Northeastern Pennsylvania this week.  They were part of the same chains of storms that brought so much death and destruction to the south, but for us they amounted to some rain, some lightning, and some wind.  OK, a lot of each of those, with some flooding and downed trees and blocked roads.  Still, I didn't think they were heavy enough or sustained enough to be a problem.

I was wrong.

Yesterday I went on a tour of a house that is being built to function (almost) completely off the grid, with electricity generated by a solar array and a wind turbine.  It's become a running joke that horrific weather has plagued each of our tours of this location.  The first tour was stymied by a very heavy snowstorm that closed roads for a while; the second attempt went off as planned, but was accompanied by such winds that we thought the house would be blown off its foundations. The third tour was yesterday, the morning after the first wave of massive storms. I advised the woman running these tours that her next scheduled tour may be interrupted by an asteroid strike.

On my way back from the tour I meandered through a few places between there and here.  At one point I crossed the Water Street Bridge in Pittston, and I was blown away by what I saw.  The Susquehanna was high and running fast,  It was also a shade of bright orange I can't recall having ever seen before.  I took a serpentine course from there that took me back along the new Eighth Street Bridge in Pittston, across the river on Route 309 in Wilkes-Barre, and then finally back to Nanticoke across the Nanticoke-West-Nanticoke Bridge.  Each time I was astonished and a little terrified by what the river looked like.

Today I had a laundry list of things that needed getting done.  The last of those things would get wrapped up an hour or so before sunset.  This held out the promise of long shadows on the river and a good photographic opportunity.  I took it.

The river actually seems to have settled down a bit since yesterday.  The color is more like coffee with lots of milk added, but debris of all sorts is floating downriver.  Note the flooded flood plain (the Nanticoke Flats) in the background, beyond the row of trees.  This is looking south from the West Nanticoke side.

It is hard for a still picture to capture the speed and turbulence of the river.  But this one did capture my shadow on the bridge.  Note the John S. Fine Bridge in the background, currently being reinforced to handle the stresses of hundreds or thousands of Marcellus Shale-related trucks each day.  This is looking east, as you may have guessed from the shadow and the fact that I mentioned that this was an hour or so before sunset.

Looking north back towards West Nanticoke.

The river is expected to reach its maximum height sometime tomorrow, though this prediction was made before last night's storms.  It has not rained since this morning.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

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