The Flash (flooding) & what it means

There’s a flood watch in effect for much of Michigan (including Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw counties). The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department requested that residents clear any storm drains in “proactive” preparation for the rain today.
It’s nice to see a reminder in my email, but the public tends to forget the reality when it comes to real preparation for major weather events:
Proactive storm preparation happens when people are educated, willing, and able to invest in “green infrastructure” like rain gardens, and water infrastructure that won’t lead to sewer back ups every time there’s a storm.
Meanwhile, Louisiana is experiencing extreme flooding in areas that never had issues with flooding before. The kind of severe weather we’re encountering is what climate change facilitates–and it’s likely we’ll see more intensely hot days and flood events.

The burdens people who have to deal with the disastrous consequences of severe weather is what climate scientists and advocates have worked so hard to warn people about and prevent.

The Problem with Climate Change
The problem with the way climate change is framed that it isn’t an intuitive issue, and industry-driven wordsmithing takes advantage of how hard it is for most people to relate to the concept.

This becomes even more challenging when we consider the fact that it happens slowly enough in the course of a human lifespan that most people don’t pay attention to crisis signs, most people don’t go outside for long enough to really observe changes in the environment, and the basics to atmospheric science weren’t taught to generations of grown and voting adults.

In Michigan, that might mean sewage overflowing into your basement and the occasional drowned person. In Louisiana today, it currently means homelessness and life/death situations as people try to escape the floodwaters.

These kinds of crises are going happen more often in the upcoming 20 years and there’s little point in arguing about data and causes–we know how people contribute to it and it’s something all of us can manage to change. It becomes an ethical and moral problem more than anything else, and the questions that lead to reducing climate change sometimes don’t even have to be about climate change to make a difference in it.

Framing the problem differently can often lead to the same desired solutions:
Want more cash at the end of the month?
You’ll probably find ways to make your electricity and water use more efficient or reduce use altogether–this means a lower water and energy bill for some, and reducing the emissions which negatively contribute to climate change too.

Does your business want to reduce wasteful costs in the long-run?
Find ways make its operations more effective, typically carbon emissions are associated with waste spending as well.


Some of us already do things that make a difference in the environment without realizing it too.Can you choose to eat a meal that doesn’t have meat (like oatmeal or waffles with peanut butter) a three times a week? That has positive environmental consequences too.

We can do simple things even as individuals to change the trajectory of disasters in the long-run. Eventually we’ll need to do it as a public, but it’s partly on your terms to get there too.

Let’s heed the science and do the right thing.

River Data

[For any curious citizen scientists out there, check out the USGS stream data!]Gage height = How high is the water?)

Discharge = How much water is moving through the river?

Discharge, cubic feet per second

Most recent instantaneous value: 131   08-16-2016   01:15 EST

Daily discharge, cubic feet per second — statistics for Aug 16 based on 69 years of record more
Median Mean 75th
Most Recent
Value Aug 16
0.50 3.2 13 24 38 131 133

Gage height, feet

Most recent instantaneous value: 5.78   08-16-2016   01:15 EST

Graph of  Gage height, feet

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Under water in Grass Lake, MI –note, this is not in the Rouge River Watershed I’ll eventually dig up photos from the Rouge.

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