Little Wolf Nature Preserve

Preserving Beautiful Kentucky

Jul
04

Flash Flood in Little Wolf Nature Preserve

Posted by Timm

Water over the dam

Instead of celebrating this Independence Day with fireworks, we were captivated by the power of a flash flood.

“The pond is overflowing!” Theresa yelled when she looked outside during a heavy rainstorm.  Water was rushing over the pond dam and down its side.  Of course, this was not a good thing because the dam could weaken and potentially collapse.  Our mobile home would not be in direct line of a breach, but we were still concerned because we didn’t want to lose our pond. 

   

    

Water frothing into the pond from the mountain

It had rained almost every day for the past week and a half.  Then on this Fourth of July, the skies opened up and dumped 3” of rain in less than an hour.  Here you can see the water whipped into a froth as it rushed into the pond after rushing down the mountain.

  

   

Pond flooding over the dam

The pond was flush with rainwater, which eventually spilled over the top of the dam.  As I was walking up the side of the dam to inspect its integrity, I realized that if the dam broke at that instant, I would have to surf my way to safety or risk drowning.

 

 

Theresa watching the muddy water flow over the beaver dam

The beaver dam is where the water normally drains from the pond.  But today the floodwater pushed through the top of the beaver dam and flattened everything in its path downstream.  The water was muddy like chocolate milk and full of debris.

   

   

Patterns emerged in the pond water as it flowed over the beaver dam.

  

  

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After exiting the pond over the beaver dam, the water normally flows gently through a 3-foot deep natural ditch through the rock that we call “The Chute.”  But instead the water filled the ditch and rushed over its banks, spreading wide into a small river.

   

   

Water swallowing a bench next to The Chute

The water swallowed a bench that sits above a small waterfall in The Chute.

  

  

The Chute is normally only a few feet wide, but not today.

  

  

Eventually The Chute makes a sharp 90-degree turn to the right.  Fortunately the embankment held up to the crashing waves and blocked the flood from soaking our mobile home, which you can see in the background. 

  

  

Shadow standing in front of our mobile home, with Little Wolf Creek flooding in the background

In the background of this photo, you can see where Little Wolf Creek has overflowed its banks.  The red gate on the right is where our bridge is… what’s left of it, anyway.

  

   

Foliage flattened by the flood

By the time I got down to the creek, some of the water had already receded, but the floodwater left behind a large patch of flattened foliage.

  

  

Darby standing next to our flooded bridge over Little Wolf Creek

When we moved here a few months ago, we debated whether to 1) build a long driveway, or 2) repair our bridge over Little Wolf Creek.  The bridge was damaged by a flood a few years ago and could no longer support cars.  We ended up building the driveway.  It wasn’t a trivial decision because the driveway was 1/4-mile long, required bulldozing and a culvert, and wasn’t cheap either.  The bridge would’ve provided a much shorter and more direct route from the main road to our mobile home.  But we didn’t want to have to worry about the creek flooding and damaging our bridge.  It turned out to be a good decision, because in today’s flood, the water rose more than a foot over the bridge, covered it with debris, and knocked the bridge a couple feet off its foundation.

  

  

Road flooded by Little Wolf Creek

This is a short road we built between Little Wolf Creek and 200 pine trees that Theresa planted in 2005.  Grown from seedlings, the white pines and lodgepoles on the right side of the road are now 30-foot giants.  In this photo, you can see how Little Wolf Creek had overflowed its banks and flooded the road, over a foot deep in some places.

  

  

Flooded storage behind the chicken coop

Unfortunately the storage area behind the chicken coop also flooded.  Theresa and I worked in the rain to dig a 30-foot-long, 1-foot-deep ditch to capture the water coming off the mountain and divert it around the barn.

  

   

Water rushing down Darby Lane

Water gushed down “Darby Lane,” one of our roads coming down the mountain.  The water was 4-6” deep in many places.  By then I had already given up trying to keep my feet dry and just walked freely through the rushing water, which was scouring channels in and across the road.

  

  

Pyramid Falls

The pretty Pyramid Falls were flowing heavily.  Sorry for the light blur in this photo; it was starting to get dark.  Though the blur does give the water a somewhat majestic appearance.

  

   

Ravenwolf Falls

Also flowing were Ravenwolf Falls, named after Theresa’s brother David.  These falls were quite captivating, with a large jet of water blasting through a plush green carpet of moss.

  

   

Unnamed waterfall

These unnamed falls flow only in flash floods.  Say that 3 times fast.

   

  

Water rushing down the mountain

This normally-placid creek bubbles down the mountain into the pond, and eventually into Little Wolf Creek.  However, tonight I could sense the power and fury of this flash flood.  Rushing water bulldozes anything in its path, even solid rock, given enough time.  This was an exciting flood to watch up close, and it ended safely with no injuries or property damage.

  1. Carla Said,

    Wow! Thanks for the tour! Your property looks beautiful.

  2. Laura Said,

    You really did get a lot of rain! Amazing pictures! So glad you did put in the driveway. Since the beginning of July we’ve been getting daily tropical storms. It’s been crazy, 40-50 mph wind gusts, floods road & yard out front and porch/alley in the back. Silvie has to go swimming sometimes to go potty 🙂 We come back all wet, but I think she likes it, especially the drying off part.

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    Little Wolf Nature Preserve is a private preserve located in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Southern Kentucky, USA.

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