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Today's word on journalism

Monday, May 15, 2006

THE FINAL WORD

PETERSBORO, Utah -- Gloom like a Bulwer-Lyttonesque pall hung heavily over the Cache Valley as word came that the WORD had gone.

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire. . . ." No, wait. . . . That's actual Bulwer-Lyttonism. Scratch it.

We conclude, with joy and trumpets and a tankard or two, the 10th season of TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM. What began in 1995 as a professor's strategy to get his students to read email (guess that worked!) now has spread, birdflu-like, far beyond that unwilling audience to self-flagellating WORD volunteers on five-and-a-half continents. But the willing and unwilling alike--the halt and addled and addicted and deluded--will have to get a life and smell the roses, for a while anyway.

Today marks the end of the WORD for this academic season. Even ere the rosy dawn that didth bust o'er this glade, this vale, this happy home. . . . ooops. Avert already, Sir Bulwer, you mangy cur!!!!

See you in the fall. . . TP

If the Little Bear floods, Paradise and Avon are prepared

SURGE OF SPRING: Water rushes into the East Fork from the Porcupine Dam outlet southeast of Paradise. / Photo by David Baker

By David Baker

April 14, 2006 | PARADISE -- The South Fork of the Little Bear River was running big and brown, swelling to meet its banks, as it flowed through green pastures near Avon Wednesday afternoon. Its counterpart -- the East Fork of the Little Bear -- also ran brown, capped with small, white rapids as it rushed to meet the South Fork, just outside of Avon.

According to Brian McInerney, hydrologist for the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service, this scene will be typical of this spring. Small rivers -- like the forks of the Little Bear -- will "run big" throughout the runoff season. Although there is a heightened flood potential for all of Cache Valley, McInerney said the threat of flooding near Paradise and Avon isn't as great.

This year there is 140-150 percent more moisture than in an average year, McInerney said. "The key is how it will come down." He added that the amount of snow pack is enough to create flood conditions by itself.

Flooding in Paradise and Avon will largely be determined by this spring's weather, he said. If the temperatures stay between 70 and 75 degrees, without rain, we will be OK, McInerney said. Any cold, stormy weather will delay the snowmelt.

"The longer the delay, the more flood potential," McInerney said. "The potential to hit 90 degrees gets better the closer we get to mid-May."

Having the snow around until mid-May means increased temperatures, which leads to faster melt rates and an increasing possibility of thunderstorms, which compound possible flood problems, McInerney said. If melt is delayed more than two weeks, we could be in trouble, he said.

The short-term weather forecast facilitates these delays. McInerney said the next five days could be stormy, with rain and a possible winter storm Sunday and Monday. He didn't speculate about long-term forecasts because of the inaccuracy involved. But, snow over the weekend would add to the snow pack and stop any melting already in progress, he said.

"There will be high flows throughout the runoff period. The question is whether there will be any damage done," McInerney said.

Flood damage is nothing new for those who live near Avon. Paradise Fire Chief Troy Fredrickson and Assistant Fire Chief Blake Pulsipher remember the damage done by last year's flooding. They related stories about log jams on the East Fork, pumping water out of the basements of several homes and placing sandbags in an attempt to keep rivers and creeks within their banks.

Pulsipher said there was one house he remembered pumping out that had at least three feet of water in the basement. It was almost above your hip-boots, he said. They said another house had water coming out of the drains because the septic tank had filled up with water.

"All you can do is herd the water around and try to keep it in the river," Fredrickson said. The only other option is to pump it out of houses, he added.

They are prepared to do both. Fredrickson said 100 people involved in a church service project filled 900 sandbags, which are stored at the town shed, ready to be loaded onto trucks if need be. The county also has six portable pumps, and all the fire departments have been put on alert, he said.

As for other preparations, Fredrickson jokingly said, "We started building an ark but we ran out of gopher wood."

All joking aside, dealing with last year's flooding taught Fredrickson an important lesson about the "amazing generosity" of people in Cache Valley.

"Last year the amount of help was amazing," he said. "There were people coming from Smithfield and Logan just because they heard on the radio that we needed help."

The East Fork of the Little Bear surges through Avon. / Photo by David Baker

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