Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rainy days

Yesterday the boys and I made a one-day trip to and from Ft. Worth. It is actually a pretty easy trip... being from a family of marathon cross-country car trips takers, this is pretty lightweight. I took the dog to the kennel... got the house spiffed up before waking the boys... we got up and out by 7:15. It was actually a pretty nice day there... a bit overcast, but very pleasant.

After we got back on the road about 6 pm, the drizzle started. It really didn't slow us down much, although I have read that you shouldn't use your cruise control in wet conditions, so that was a slight annoyance... I'm not all that great at maintaining the same perfect speed without a little help, so I had to try to concentrate on not speeding or dipping way below the speed limit (thereby lengthening the trip).

In the meantime, Shreveport had been getting record-breaking amounts of rain... see news excerpt:

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — More than 10 inches of rain fell late Tuesday and Wednesday in the Shreveport-Bossier City area, forcing a state of emergency in Caddo Parish after at least 90 homes were flooded. With another round of storms accompanied by high water expected Wednesday, parish public schools closed at midday. Both Caddo and Bossier parishes were under flash flood warnings.
The area's 24-hour record of rainfall was 12.44 inches, set in 1933, Homeland Security officials said. Although the city's drainage system was functioning, it was inundated by the amount of rain, said Mike Strong, Shreveport's Director of Operational Services.

The National Weather Service said 4.43 inches of rain fell in a one-hour period across Shreveport-Bossier City on Tuesday night, breaking the old record of 3.16 inches. Records were also set for the amount of rain in a two-hour period — 5.73 inches — and for a three-hour period — 6.51 inches, the weather service said. Numerous roads were closed in the region Wednesday because of high water, along with the gates at Barksdale Air Force Base. The Caddo Parish sheriff's office had boats standing by in case people were trapped by the water. Deputies were checking houses for stranded residents in the southern part of the parish where flooded streets had cut off normal access.

Lightning caused several fires, including one at Bossier City apartment complex. The fire started about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and quickly spread to four apartments, completely engulfing the roof of one building, said police spokesman Mark Natale. No one was injured. Four units were destroyed, while another four sustained heavy smoke and water damage, Natale said.

At the height of the rain, about 18,000 customers of Southwestern Electric Power Co. were without electricity because of limbs and trees that fell on utility lines. That number had been reduced to about 7,500 by midday Wednesday, said SWEPCO spokesman Scott McCloud.
The Times of Shreveport and KTBS-TV contributed to this report.

Since we weren't even here for most of the deluge, our portion of the story is all pretty uninteresting, as stories go, but there is one little tidbit of interest (at least to the boys). As we were taking the last offramp on the home stretch, I got almost to the bottom of the ramp to find that a couple of other cars were simply stopped in the middle of the road... then, looking farther down, I could see that there was a river crossing the road down below. It was difficult to see just how deep it was, so I was not interested in trying to venture across. To make it a bit more exciting, we saw a small car basically in the water up to the door handles off in the ditch to the right side (the boys thought this was very cool). I am sure the driver must have just hit the water going a little too quickly and slid off the pavement... the water wasn't deep enough to be a life threatening thing... but I guess they probably totalled the car.

So... all this is about 10 pm at night... I was tired and wanted to get home... but our path to home was essentially blocked... I started backing back up the ramp, but thought it was a bit dangerous with the rain coming down and more cars coming...

Then we saw an 18 wheeler (fearless guys, all of them) slowly weave his way through the accumulation of 'four-wheelers' and then make his way through the water. I could then see that the water was only about a foot deep... with our big old heavy gas-guzzling Tahoe, I was no longer afraid... we took it slowly across and headed on home. It was one time I was glad to have it rather than a lower riding vehicle. Usually I complain about how stinking big it is, how difficult to park, how much gas it uses, how it rides just like a truck (not nice and smooth like a car)... can you tell this wouldn't have been my first vehicle choice had the situation been different when we bought it?

Well... the Tahoe has redeemed itself. See the photo of Cross Lake (which we blithely drove across in the dark of night).

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