Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hard Winter, Hello Spring!

February 25, 2014
I'm sure that every single blogger who loves and enjoys nature will be writing a post about the coming of Spring---and this year how particularly welcome it is!  Not to be left out, here is my pictorial review of the heavy snows of winter and the flooding of early March.

I live in the Bitterroot Valley at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Western Montana.  I look to the west at the Bitterroot Mountains and to the east at the Sapphire Mountains and down our valley runs the beautiful Bitterroot River.  I live just a couple miles from the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge which has pond, woodland, prairie, and river habitats for birds and animals.  In short, this is a beautiful place full of life and we appreciate it all every day.  That's why we live here--because it ain't for the money we can make!!

This was a particularly wintery winter with cold temps and abundant snow.  We talk here in terms of the "snowpack" because the amount of snow we get in the mountains over the winter will determine how much irrigation water there will be for the ranchers and landowners here in the valley.   When I was a kid growing up just north of here in Missoula, Montana we had many winters with lots of snow which stuck around, but in the recent decade the winters have been rather mild in comparison and that made this winter seem all the more wintery.

This is my front yard in February and as you can see we had a beautiful day when I couldn't resist grabbing my camera and snapping a few choice pics of the landscape I was enjoying out my window. 

We feed the birds year-round and this is one of our feeder stations covered with snow.  The birds didn't like all the snow on the top as they usually perch there and the snow was too deep and soft for them!

February 25, 2014

That's the Bitterroot mountains behind the feeder.

Because the ground was very frozen and we got a good rain with warmer temps, all that snow turned into a one day scary flood situation for many of us in the valley.  We live on Three Mile Creek (it runs along our back yard boundary), and it usually gets high every spring but doesn't threaten our home or property too much.  This year it was very very high on this day in early March and I could see a lake out my bedroom window that was never there before!  I watched the waters rising all day and finally called my husband and he came home early to help me worry about it!  We did go and fill some sandbags at the local fire hall and stacked them up behind our garage to hopefully prevent some flooding there. 

March 6, 2014

The waters actually stopped rising and held steady and then as the night got colder the melting subsided.  By morning it was not a lake anymore but had turned back into a creek and it has pretty much stayed that way.  

March 6, 2014
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Here is what the creek looked like the next day and what it is supposed to look like!
March 7, 2014

Ahhh, much better!  Lots of sand was deposited in the area under all those trees which is usually where our neighbor has their fire pit and enjoys summer bonfires.  That area has never flooded in the more than 12 years that we have lived here.  There's always a first time for everything!

The weather then proceeded to melt much of the heavy snow we had accumulated in a reasonably quick way, and now that Spring is here in April the creek is rushing along in its little channel, and behaving itself nicely.

I'm not sure if you can actually see with my pictures the dramatic change there was to this little bit of landscape during this flooding, but I can tell you that I was very nervous.  If the creek had risen 12 more inches I think it would have been flowing into the crawl space of our house and into our two garage areas.  That was not a comfortable feeling, and I'm glad those kinds of high waters are very uncommon.  It was a certain set of circumstances and timing that caused it to happen in the winter of 2014.

May it never come again as long as I live here!

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