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Outdoor adventures: Behold the Rock River's return to normalcy

Published: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 12:07 a.m. CDT

Happier than a fat tick on a lazy dog. That’s me, all right. Just look at the beautiful river in all her glory, raging outside the window.

It seems like forever since the old girl has been at or above normal level. But lo and behold, here we are. I know we are just a few inches above normal as I pen this article, but after the last 10 months or so, I would say it is reason for excitement.

The graphic accompanying the article this week is from the NOAA National Weather Service site (www.weather.gov) I have used for years to track water level and flow. The site is incredibly helpful for us outdoorsy-type people. It’s got forecasts, precipitation amounts, water levels, predictions and tons of other useful stuff.

Now, being back over the 4-foot mark at the Como gauge, located in between the 14-inch mill and the Route 30 bridge, isn’t normally a very big deal. But looking back, I believe the last time we saw the 4-foot mark was last February.

Folks, that’s drier than a popcorn fart.

The big question: Will it continue? Will we see the dry pattern change, or will we finally start to see some regular moisture?

Here is something for you to think on that might really blow your mind. This summer, the river hovered around the 2½-foot mark at Como. Sometimes a hair lower and sometimes a tick higher.

Now, go back in time with me for a second, back before most of us were around. Would you believe on Feb.16, 1918, the Rock River crested at 19.6 feet at the Como gauge?

Next time you drive over the bridge, west of good old Rock Falls, look down and try to imagine what that river would look like with a measly 17 more feet of water. It is something you just can’t fathom.

More recently, we have seen the 24th-highest crest in history back in 2002 at 13.65 feet. Then, just a few years back, we witnessed the 33rd-highest crest at 12.87 feet in July of 2010.

I remember the last flood like it was yesterday. It closed the Prophetstown State Park and forced me to relocate my catfish camp. It also spurred the worst year of mosquitos I have seen in my lifetime. But that’s a whole different story.  

As I scrolled down through the list of high historical crests, I saw one in particular I found hard to believe: 

Two years ago to the day, the 51st-highest crest in history at 11.48 feet. Heck, that may as well have been 100 years ago, because I’d forgotten all about it. But it happened.

Any way you look at it, this high water is desperately needed. Current keeps the river clean and deep and perty-like. So, please, Mother Nature, keep it coming.

Yes, I know it is one of those “Be careful what you wish for” deals, too. Next thing you know, she’ll turn on the old faucet and won’t shut it off, and we’ll be saying “Man, how about some low water?”

That’s the way it works, ain’t it?

Have a great week, all.

Go Catfish!

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