Sunday, June 7, 2009
The melt is over, the drought is coming
It was a great spring for North Shore waterfalls. The snow depth in April was astounding. I had some great hikes and visits to falls on the Cascade, Brule, Devil Track and Pigeon rivers. Rivers were nearly busting out of their banks and the creekboaters had a great month of doing their crazy creek kayak thing.
The great torrent is over, or nearly so. Check out the graph above from the US Geological Survey, showing the gage height of the Pigeon River, by Middle Falls. The river's height, and therefore its flow, peaked about May 1 and now is back down to its early April levels.
A chart for Amity Creek in Duluth, from www.lakesuperiorstreams.org, shows the same drop-off pattern as seen at the Pigeon River, only even more drought-like:
A drought is creeping across Minnesota and will hit the North Shore soon, unless we get some rain. North Shore rivers seem to have dropped off more in the western part of the shore than in the east. I noticed that the Caribou River, about midway between Duluth and Grand Portage, is down to just pools and streamlets now, not the bank-to-bank torrent it was in early May.
With the wind howling off the lake today and the woods full of fresh green, it sure doesn't feel like drought on the North Shore. But the rivers are warning us.