Heavy rains combined with melting snow created a “perfect storm” type of conditions for our area to receive intense flooding just before the holidays.

Those in low-lying areas undoubtedly watched puddles develop in their yard, and those with riverside property no longer had any yard to speak of, but was the flooding in our area of record proportions?  Nope.  Not even close.

The Mad River near Springfield, as measured by the United States Geological Survey’s River Gauges, crested at 10,000 CFS on Sunday morning, December 22.  But what exactly does that mean?  

At certain points along the Mad River, from its source to mouth, several river gauge stations are strategically placed along the banks.  These stations continuously monitor the height and flow of the river, almost like measuring the pulse of a human being.  Each gauge is equipped with a tube submerged below the river’s surface, and gas is continuously released from the tube.  As the depth of the water above the tube opening is increased, more pressure is needed to expel the gas from the tube.  As the river drops, the opposite situation occurs, requiring less pressure to push out the gas.  These physical measurements are then converted by USGS computers into stream flow data, either by gauge height in feet or by discharge rate.

Avid canoeists, kayakers, and other Mad River enthusiasts tend to measure river flows in discharge rates, or CFS.  CFS stands for the number of cubic feet per second discharged by the river at one specific point.  So, when the river crested Sunday morning at 10,000 CFS, that means there were 10,000 cubic feet of water being discharged each second at each point along the river.  For comparison, the Mad River near Springfield usually runs at approximately 400-500 CFS during the winter months, and between 100 and 300 CFS in the summertime.  10,000 CFS translates roughly to just over 11 feet of river height along its banks.  11 feet also marks the Mad River’s official flood stage, or when it spills over its banks.

Although this flood seemed epic, we’ve experienced this amount of water before—even in the winter months.  Just two years ago, on December 6, 2011, the Mad crested at 10,300 CFS.  In fact, we’ve seen five instances of the Mad River reaching 10,000 CFS or more since 1990.  

To put it all in perspective, the Mad River near Springfield crested at 55,000 CFS on March 25 during the great 1913 flood, making our 10,000 seem like mere child’s play.  

If you’re interested in monitoring the stream levels in your neck of the woods, visit www.waterdata.us.gov and search for the gauge closest to you.  For checking the Mad River levels near Enon and New Carlisle, select the USGS gauge titled Mad River near Springfield, which corresponds to the gauge located just downstream of the Lower Valley Pike bridge closest to State Route 4.  


{besps_c}0|01.jpg|Flooding|The Mad River nears the bottom of the Enon Road bridge Sunday, December 22 as it crested at over 11 feet.{/besps_c}

{besps_c}0|02.jpg|Flooding|Deron Castle, manager of Mad River Adventures Canoe Livery, surveys the encroaching floodwaters Saturday evening as the river began to rise.{/besps_c}

{besps_c}0|03.jpg|Flooding|Mad River Adventures sits underwater Sunday morning, forcing Castle to paddle a canoe to and from the building.{/besps_c}

{besps_c}0|04.jpg|Flooding|Rushing floodwaters from Mad River Adventures spill over into the driveway of Mad River Topsoil, and then into the ditch along State Route 4.{/besps_c}