I heard tonight that while the level of precipitation doesn't guarantee a more colorful autumn, a higher amount of rainfall may make it last longer.
I've been getting back my appreciation for the real beauty of autumn, but I had been mystified about the total rainfall. It seems that in the past week or so we've seen some pretty intense storms and higher rainfall totals as the result. For this time of year I thought that I had never before seen such intense storms visiting us until I came up with the answer yesterday.
Twenty years ago at this time, there was severe weather similar to what we've gotten, but with more rain than wind and lightning. This resulted in a massive flood for the Des Plaines River, starting from the Wisconsin state line and ending up somewhere around the west suburbs lining the river.
Gurnee, about 25 miles north of us, ended up with the worst of it. This went down to other suburbs including Des Plaines, where floodwaters spilled about a half-mile from the riverbanks. I'm told that the waters got as far as a block from where we live. When flooding threatened two years ago, Madeleine and I were helping our neighbors fill sandbags. Her school was closed for several days (including the Memorial Day weekend, where days off were scheduled anyway) and the playgrounds were flooded. Later that would contribute to a nasty hornet problem where children were stung at the beginning of the school year.
There's a picture of the McDonald's surrounded by water like an island during that flood. I tried finding the picture on Google but couldn't - guess the only picture is at McDonalds. Only one picture - that of Carolyn Krause standing on a street where she had toured flood-ravaged areas as village president of Mount Prospect at the time - was listed.
They called the 1986 flood a hundred-year flood because of the probability of that happening per year - one percent. However, history would repeat itself the following summer. Heavy rains once again flooded the river and shut down the Kennedy going to O'Hare. I had joked about "sailing down Lake Kennedy to O'Hare Island". The airport was closed and some of the runways were flooded as well. We, being downtown, left work early to avoid the crowds on the CTA. I worked with one man, a quadriplegic who used a motorized wheelchair with a breathing apparatus, and he lived along the Kennedy that was affected by the flooding. We didn't see him for a few days afterward - his transportation could not bring him to and from work during that flood.
I think though this year the storms were much more intense than they were twenty years ago. The storms on Monday night brought microbursts that ravaged the west and south suburbs as well as the South Side. As of tonight, about 31,000 people were still without power. Some schools remain closed due to damage and lack of power.
The storm on the first day of autumn brought minor flooding to our side streets and rerouted traffic from Miner Street to Rand Road. I had seldom seen lightning as close as it was. Storm sirens went off twice.
While there was much rain with these storms, so far the river doesn't seem to be in much danger of flooding. Over the past month several trees were cut down near the river. I had not heard of this project before it started, but now wonder whether this is a flood control project. Doesn't quite make sense as trees appear to be a natural barrier to flooding, but the results remain to be seen.
Well, that's it for now. It's not scheduled to rain for several days now. We'll see whether there is a twenty-year or two year redux with the flooding.