I just finished a whirlwind reading tour for Sagebrush Empire, which took me and the Silver Bullet from Durango to Mancos to Edwards to Fruita to Bluff to St. George and Telluride. I’m a bit road-weary and now, with the end of summer approaching, I need a bit of a breather. I bet you do, too.
And maybe you’ve fallen behind a little on your Land Desk reading, too. If so, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to do some catching up. ICYMI, let me suggest these recent dispatches:
Desecration in the Desert: A lovely guest post by Jim O’Donnell.
Monsoon, McElmo, Drought: An essay about Monsoon, that trickster that pulls an emerald veil over our eyes.
A Chacoan outlier illustrates the need for oil and gas leasing reform.
On a surreal experience in a Page hotel room overlooking Glen Canyon Dam.
But before you dig in, there is a bit of news that just can’t wait: Massive flash flooding in Hanksville, Utah. A moisture-laden storm moved into the Fremont River drainage area this week and dumped its load, causing the river to swell enormously as it ran right through Hanksville, quite literally. Videos show cars and debris floating past inundated hotels and houses.
Unfortunately there is no USGS water gage on the Fremont River in or near Hanksville, so we don’t know exactly how much water was flowing through the hamlet. But a gage a few miles downstream from Hanksville and the confluence of the Fremont River and Dirty Devil shows a dramatic surge. Early in the morning of Sept. 2, the river was running at about 3 cubic feet per second, a virtual trickle. Some twelve hours later it peaked at 13,700 cubic feet per second. For context: The Colorado River as it runs through Moab has been around 3,000 cfs for most of the last week.
Here’s the hydrograph on the Dirty Devil.
And here’s some video. No human casualties have been reported, though the tourism-based economy will take a big hit, as the calamity occurred just days before what is usually one of the busiest weekends of the year.
See you after the long weekend.