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Flash Flood

Photo: A river runs thorough it ... a good book, but a terrible thing to have happen to your property and your home as happened here in Number One Canyon on September 6, 2013.

Though often gentle, Mother Nature sometimes wreaks havoc quickly. The residents up Number One Canyon Road in Wenatchee certainly found this to be true the evening of September 5. During the evening, thunderstorms unleashed movie-style rain onto the slopes of Twin Peaks and, in a matter of hours, truckloads worth of sand, sticks, and stones were rapidly flowing down the canyon with all the runoff.

While this type of flash flooding is supposedly a 100-year event, the fact that Number One Canyon has seen three such events in as many years might lead some to surmise there’s something amiss with the county’s assessment of what constitutes a "hundred-year event".

The aftermath of Thursday night’s downpour? About twenty properties along the Number One Canyon Road ended up badly mudded. In most cases, it was the yard, garden, shed, or garage of those properties whose toes were held to the flood. In a few sad cases, however, the primary dwelling of the property was positioned in the path of the flow, and a river of mud ran through the living rooms of such homes.

Photo: The parking area at  the intersection of Sage Hills Drive and Canyon Number One Road. Currently it's not a great place to park but, if you're looking for a spare tire, the place rocks... or muds.

Driving Number One Canyon Road now and seeing the load of debris that Nature moved over the course of a mere few hours offers an impressive sight. Those who drive the road now will also note that the parking area for the Sage Hills Trail (at the intersection of Number One Canyon Road and Sage Hills Drive) is a viscous mess of mud and waste. You probably won’t want to park here until the lot is plowed or until it has dried. Parking at the Day Drive Trailhead or the end of Maiden Lane are currently better options for entering the Sage Hills.

Considering how much water ran down the road and how much the ditches bordering the road were deepened, it's lucky the road didn't washout.

We drove to the end of pavement up Number Two Canyon Road on Friday to determine how flooding impacted that area and to assess the condition of the dirt road beyond the pavement. The canyon itself fared quite well, but the dirt road was soft and would rut easily if driven. It needs the better part of a rainless day to dry before it can be driven responsibly. Mudders (who should be fined for re-grading and/or habitat restoration when caught rutting roads or driving off-road) will likely ignore this recommendation, but we hope hikers and mountain bikers will wait for the road to firm-up before driving up to the second gate.

Photo: A property and a home that sustained major mud damage.

The forecast calls for more rain in the days ahead and, with the soil already soft and saturated, it may be several days before the local dirt roads and dirt trails are in condition to use. Count your blessings if that’s the only inconvenience imposed upon you from this storm cycle. Those whose property lies in the path of a flash flood are worrying that they may see a few more "hundred-year floods" before the week is over.