Another week in the Creek

The big, wet snow from a couple of weeks ago and warm temperatures this week means Christopher Creek will see a lot of water rampaging down its banks.

Christopher Creek gets a little wild from time to time. We are not talking about bears, javelina, mountain lion or nightlife. Over the last 30 years, there have been maybe a dozen times when Mother Nature has put on a show.

Beginning with well above average rainfall from the first of December through the middle of January, the forest floor of the 5,000-acre watershed above us became saturated. This is evidenced by the flow at the Carwash for the last month and a 17 percent increase in the Salt/Verde reservoir system since early December.

Then when you couple that with a heavy snow arriving the third week in January along with current, week-long daytime temperatures in the mid-50s, you have all the ingredients for a boulder-rolling rampage in the normally docile Christopher Creek.

Looking at that heavy snow we had two weeks ago you should note that what we received was heavily laden with water. Data from the weather station located at the top of See Canyon on the edge of the Rim tells us there was more than 12 inches of water in the 54 inches of snow accumulation.

As a part of his job managing the OW Ranch a dozen or so miles east of the Creek, Larry Boesching keeps an extensive record of the weather. Following this last snow event, he melted down the 32 inches to yield nearly seven inches of water.

Perhaps the only mitigating factor was the cold snap last week. Low overnight temperatures in the single digits and the low teens only delayed the inevitable.

Now to bore you with gross estimations and some statistics, there are some interesting elements as to how much water there is above us and where that water needs to go. First of all, not all the water in the area above us actually comes through town.

A good portion of the runoff will flow into Sharp Creek and Hunter Creek entering Christopher Creek downstream. Much of this comes off of Christopher Mountain and an area below the Rim east of town.

So, let’s speculate that there is six inches of accumulated water in the 5,000-acre watershed. Further, we will guess that only half of that will visit us. If you do the math it means that an estimated 1,250 acre-feet will flow through town.

What is an acre-foot of water you ask? (or not) There are 43,560 cubic feet in an acre-foot. A cubic foot of water contains about eight gallons.

It’s an unimaginable amount of water. Four hundred million gallons!

Fortunately, it did not come all at once. Unfortunately, it has come in a hurry.

The rampage has begun this week and will continue for a while.

This is not to alarm anyone and by the time you read this, you can decide whether this is all a bunch of hooey.

Last Friday night the howling winds brought down a snow-laden live ponderosa pine tree in the front of Ray and Margie Larsen’s property. The large pine took out a secondary power line and wiped out their service pole. However, it did not cause any power outage to the rest of the Creek.

The Hashknife Pony Express is coming through Christopher Creek next Wednesday, Feb. 8, between 1 and 2 p.m. Trail-boss Mark Reynolds stopped by Sheila’s Creekside a while back to drop off posters and bandannas.

He agreed, at Sheila’s insisting, to resume the time-honored tradition of making the hand-off in front of the restaurant. See you there.

In an escape from cabin fever last Saturday evening, Karen Thornton chauffeured me to the Payson Elks Lodge to attend their murder mystery. We were met there by Dave and Rosemary Elston.

The play’s setting was a coastal winery beach party. Underline the wine in winery. By the second act it became apparent the players had done their share of sampling!

We got to wish Hayden a happy birthday when he stopped by on Monday. He was with his parents, Josh and Samone, and sister, Brooklyn, on their way to check out the cabin. What they found was a lot of snow.

John Turtchin lives on Apple Lane and his back deck is right over the creek. We look forward to a pictorial documentation of the flow over the next three weeks. Dave and Lee Sullivan will try to install a live cam at the Carwash.

Thanks to Randy Dawson and his front-end loader for liberating my old pickup. It had been held captive for 10 days by a large ice berm from snow removal on the road.

Thanks to Dave and Rosemary for this year’s first delivery of grapefruit from the Valley.

Arizona should build a wall on its western border and make California pay for it ... and that’s another week in the Creek.

Contact the reporter 

tmcquerrey@payson.com

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