Snagged in the Inlet

Only small branches were visible above the muddy water of Cayuga Inlet where this tree was snagged against the Ithaca Boating Center's pilings in Cayuga Inlet on Sept. 9 after the high water caused by the remants of Tropical Storn Lee.

 On Friday, September 9, during the very high and powerful of flow of water in Cayuga Inlet caused by the heavy rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, a tree was found snagged against the pilings of the marina at the Ithaca Boating Center on Old Taughannock Blvd. in Ithaca. It turned out to be a large tree and Tiohero Tours crew used their tour boat and floating classroom, the MV Haendel, to pull the tree loose and maneuver it into an open slip. The tree was then hauled out of the water, cut up and taken away.

 

Workers prepare the stump of the tree for lifting it out of a boat slip by the Inlet.

 

This large tree probably was ripped from the bank farther upstream and was carried under the Buffalo Street bridge, before getting stuck at the marina. It is a testimony to the enormous power and volume of water roaring down the Inlet during that storm. The water pumped many other objects and debris into Cayuga Lake (including, probably, the  aggressive invasive aquatic plant, Hydrilla, recently discovered in the Inlet), as well as an enormous volume of silt.

 

At last the huge tree is hoisted from the water!

 

 Photos courtesy of Dennis Montgomery, Cayuga Wooden Boatworks.

Frosty Freefall

The Ithaca Art Facebook page issues a challenge or mission each day for participants to sumbit a photograph relating to the theme designated. Today’s theme is “something cold.” Here is our submission, from Taughannock Falls.

Close up of Taughannock Falls in February 2010

Here's what Taughannock Falls may look like in just a few months!

Sculptured Passage

Glen Creek exits Glen Arcadia.

Countless floods have polished the hard siltstone in the bed of Watkins Glen, creating beautiful abstract sculptures along the way.

Glen Creek has polished a layered route through the bedrock on its way out of Glen Arcadia in Watkins Glen State Park. (Glen Arcadia is one section of the gorge known as Watkins Glen, upstream from Rainbow Falls.)

Pumping mud!

Muddy south end of Cayuga Lake

An enormous "sediment plume" spreads at the south end of Cayuga Lake following heavy rains in October 2010. Photo courtesy of Bill Hecht

When there are very heavy rains causing erosion and flooding in Cayuga Lake’s watershed, most of the mud ends up in Cayuga Lake.

Half the water entering Cayuga Lake from streams in its watershed comes in right at Ithaca through Fall Creek and Cayuga Inlet. Consequently, probably half the silt and mud washed into the lake resulting from high water events like last week’s remnants of Tropical Storm Lee comes in at Ithaca as well. Indeed, Ithaca is built on such sediments deposited over thousands of years.

But the combination of agriculture, drainage ditches, unprotected stream banks, poorly managed construction sites, and other activities resulting in bare soils in the watershed increases the amount of erosion over what would have happened in the 1700s when this was Cayuga territory.

Floodplainforest Fuertes Sanctuary

Most of what is now downtown Ithaca was wetland, either marsh or floodplain forest or swamp, as shown here in the Fuertes Bird Sanctuary at Stewart Park. Most of those wetlands have been cleared and filled, removing an important buffer to the effects of flooding of the area.

Also, the wetlands that once occupied downtown Ithaca would absorb and hold much of the mud and water gushing from area gorges. Add to that, the channelization of streams through town (meaning they can’t jump their banks normally and spread out over the swamp), and you get heavy siltation of the south end of the lake, degrading water quality.

Ithaca’s Gorges Flood!

Tropical Storm Lee has flooded many communities in PA and NY, some of them catastrophically. Ithaca was spared the worst flooding, though it had some, with some damage. Ithaca’s gorges, meanwhile, became raging torrents. Check out our video visit to five of Ithaca’s gorge streams and waterfalls and finally Cayuga Lake! Click on this photo of Buttermilk Falls.

Buttermilk Falls Roars with floodwaters on September 7, 2011.

Ithaca’s Gorges Flood!