It’s the annual song and dance. Spring arrives (on the calendar, at least.) Snow melts. Ice melts. Rain falls. Lake Champlain water levels rise. And rise. And rise. Sometimes (though hopefully not this year) Lake Champlain water levels reach flood stage…
According to the U.S. Geological Survey Lake Champlain’s “flood stage” is 100′ above sea level. In Rosslyn terms, that’s the tip-top of the stone seawall. And about 12″ below Rosslyn’s boathouse floor. Give or take a wave.
Are We Safe from Flooding?
As of 8:00 AM this morning the water level was exactly 100.01′ which is reason enough for optimism that we will soon fall below flood level. For now. A flashback to last spring reminds me to temper my optimism.
I’m once again preoccupied with Lake Champlain’s rapidly rising waters. As you can see, the Lake Champlain water level is approaching 98 feet. While this isn’t an unusually high water level for spring, the rate at which the level is increasing concerns me. (Lake Champlain is Rising, Rising, Rising)
As it turned out, Lake Champlain water levels continued to rise. Not enough to cause a lot of flood damage, but enough to spank us for launching the ski runabout early. The waters rose and rose until the dock and boat lift were maxed out.
Nevertheless, we figured we’d escaped unscathed. Compelled to stretch the Adirondack boating season a full six months—from the beginning of May through the end of October—we push the envelope. Too early, many boaters say. Too late, others shrug, wondering when we’ll learn our lesson.
Rough water when the boat lift was as high as it could go resulted in a snapped boat lift cable and a heroic save by Doug, our caretaker who doesn’t swim and until one fateful day last spring didn’t know how to operate the boat. He learned mighty quickly. Necessity is the mother of invention. But that story for another day.
It took some doing to repair the boat lift. Fortunately the exceptionally generous team at the Essex Shipyard helped us store the boat until Lake Champlain water levels dropped and our dock and boat lift were returned to service.
Two years ago, the lake gods and goddesses spoiled us. At least long enough to jumpstart repairs still lingering from devastating flooding damage endured the previous spring.
The dock is in. The ski runabout is in. The Adirondack chairs are lined up along the waterfront. The beach and lawn and gardens are recovering from last spring’s endless inundation… Fully half of Rosslyn’s waterfront, maybe more, remains a boulder piled mess… But we are rebuilding. Slowly. Steadily recovering from the 2011 Lake Champlain floods. (May 16, 2012)
So, are we safe from flooding? Far from it. Experience has taught us otherwise. It has also taught us to be grateful when Lake Champlain water levels begin to drop. And to appreciate the limited damage we’ve experienced so far this spring. Others have been less fortunate.
Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Joe Flynn says after a cold, snowy winter, warm weather and heavy rains starting on April 15 caused flooding that damaged roads and other infrastructure. The damage lasted until Friday when waters receded, allowing state and local roads to be reopened and repairs to start. (Burlington Free Press)
I feel for Champlain Valley neighbors recovering from damaging Lake Champlain water levels, and I hope that they’ll endure no further damage.
Rosslyn’s waterfront will require landscaping repairs when water levels, but I won’t tempt fate by showing the damage and anticipating repairs. Not yet. Superstitious? Perhaps!
But if fate treats us kindly I’ll add a photo album. Later. When danger’s passed…
- Lake Champlain is Rising, Rising, Rising (rosslynredux.com)
- 2011 Flood of Lake Champlain Basin (essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Cold slows floods, but some areas still underwater (northcountrypublicradio.org)
- Restoring Lake Champlain (vtwatershedblog.com)
- Severe Lake Champlain flooding unlikely this spring (blogs.burlingtonfreepress.com)
- Lake Champlain (sarahbrain.wordpress.com)