Lake Champlain has crested 103′ for the first time. We’re more than 3 feet above flood stage and about one foot over the previously highest recorded lake levels. And lake levels are expected to continue rising over the next day or so.
So, to continue with my flood-related photo activities, I went for a walk along the Burlington waterfront to see the sights. I saw a lot of people doing the same thing, nearly everyone with a camera in hand. The first thing I noticed was our buddy Champ. A few weeks ago, the water was high but I could walk next to him. Now, it looks like he’s been shifted by water that’s a foot or two higher. He’s now looking the other direction almost as if he can’t believe how high the water is either.
Continuing down the waterfront there are some signs that spring is making an appearance, but mostly there’s just a lot of water. Even in places where the lake hasn’t swallowed up the land, there are standing puddles of water. The breakwater is nowhere to be seen; the coast guard launch is non-existant; the pier just north of the waterfront is at lake level, if not a bit submerged.
If you haven’t been down to the lake to see it first-hand, you owe it to yourself to make it to the waterfront. The photographs in the Burlington Free Press are impressive and the aerial photos that Governor Shumiln posted to his blog are great, but there’s nothing like seeing it in person.
The rain keeps coming, the rivers are raging, and the lake is rising. I’ve taken to going on a quick walk at lunch time or at least making a brief stop on the way home to check out some of the flooding in the area. Today, I stopped at the IBM dam on the Winooski River. Last October I had stopped here to snap some photos of the flooding we were experiencing then. Conveniently, I had taken some photographs a few weeks before so I had some nice before and after shots of the river. I decided to stop at the same location today to see how it compared. I think, actually, that the river was probably flowing faster in October.
I think this next photo gives the best comparison to what things looked like last September and October in the same place.
I was intrigued, today, with the way the bubbles danced as the water cascaded over the falls.
The flooding in the Champlain Valley and on Lake Champlain is definitely worse right now. You only have to see these aerial photos to understand that. I think, though, there was more water coming down the Winooski last October. What do you think? Drop me a comment below and let me know.
I was in Washington D.C. early this week and was supposed to travel home to Vermont during the thunderstorms Tuesday evening. The flight was delayed and eventually cancelled which meant I flew up over Lake Champlain at around noon on Wednesday. I was greeted with sights that I’ve only seen in photos from other flooded areas. Silt and debris flowed out of every river and stream into Lake Champlain creating plumes of muddy water. The photo below is of the mouth of the Winooski river with the silt streaming north past Colchester point and towards the mouth of Malletts Bay. Usually I travel with a decent camera, but this was a quick trip and all I had on me was my iPhone.
After dinner, Tawny and I decided to walk over to the farmer’s field near our house to see what the flooding had done. Earlier in the day Route 128 was closed right here, but the waters had receded enough to re-open by early evening. The flood waters had eroded large parts of the shoulder but the traveled lanes still looked structurally sound.
I can’t imagine this truck is going to move for a few days. Earlier this morning, Tawny informed me, there was a tractor in the middle of the field across the road. The tractor made its way out, but there were some serious ruts that indicated where it had been.
We walked around for a few more minutes as the sun set, enjoying the near 80 degree weather. It’s hard to believe that this is a farmer’s field. Usually photos like this are down at the lake shore looking over at the Adirondack mountains.
It’s been an exciting year for weather in Burlington. What’s mother nature got in store for us next?
Champ is taking advantage of the high water in the lake to make the rounds to businesses he can’t normally reach. Here he is outside the Vermont Lake Monsters front office down at the King St. ferry dock in Burlington.
He’s not very bashful right now and hung around for a few portraits while I was walking around the waterfront.
For those of you that haven’t made it down to Perkins Pier to see the flooding, here are a few shots of what it looks like now. According to NOAA, the lake is at 100.7′. I’ve heard reports that it is supposed to crest 101′ and with 80″ of snow remaining on Mt. Mansfield I have little doubt that we’ll get there.
Normally, these benches are a nice place to watch the sun set and be safe from waves. Today, you’d be hard pressed to get out there without hip waders.
For comparison, here’s what it looked like last March. The dark line on the water is the Burlington breakwater which is completely submerged right now.
Note – all of these photos and many, many more are available on SkiPix.com. If you ran, you should hop over and check it out. There are prints, posters, magnets, and even digital downloads if you want to use these on Facebook.
This past Saturday, Run Vermont organized the 5th Annual Unplugged Half Marathon along the Burlington, VT waterfront of Lake Champlain. 600 runners pre-registered for what can be a questionable day by the lake. Some years, we get freezing temperatures, cold winds, and even snow. This year, it was in the mid to upper 30’s at the start and it got downright warm once the race was under way. Even standing at my first location, I was able to take off my jacket, roll up my sleeves, and enjoy the sunshine.
The course is the same every year, as far as I’m aware. It starts in Colchester, just over the Burlington line (aka the Winooski River) where it makes a quick loop through some neighborhoods before joining up with the Burlington Bike Path and heading due south along the lake shore. This is the third year I’ve photographed this event and I try not to shoot the same location twice in a row. This year, I was drawn back to the bridge over the Winooski where the curved lines make for interesting framing and the sun really highlights what a beautiful day we had.
Most of the events I photograph are filled with a relaxed crowd, out to have a good time, but this one seems exceptional. Some people will run through the “photo trap” with arms around their running partners,
some smile & chat
make a point to wave hello and / or thank me for being out there (it really is my pleasure)
or suggest that world peace is the answer (at least, I think she was saying that and not whirled peas.)
When I moved to Oakledge Park to take some photos by the lake with Burlington in the background, I came across this group of fans cheering for someone’s mom if I remember correctly.
They certainly caught the runners’ attention as they came through the park!
Near the end of the race, they really encourage you to finish strong.
No, seriously, the truck drivers that go through there did an amazing job navigating the fans, runners, and cones. And the runners knew the trucks didn’t really want to run them over.
Thanks for putting on another great race, Joe! I’ll see you next year.