Monday, March 1, 2010

The Ohio Flood

The Marietta Intelligencer, March 5, 1856

In the Tri-weekly Intelligencer of the 23d inst., you have published an article on the "Ohio Floods," by our late worthy fellow townsman, C. Emerson, Esq.  Few persons have devoted more thought to that subject than he has done; but his statements in regard to the floods of 1817 and 1818, appear to have been made from recollection, which are not exact as to time and other circumstances.  Having made some notes relating to those floods at the time, I am able to give some facts in regard to them which Mr. Emerson has not given.

The flood of November 1817, was preceded by heavy rains on the 30th and 31st October and the 1st day of November; on the latter day, the river began to rise rapidly.  On the 2nd, it was nearly out of its banks, and rising at the rate of 6 inches per hour.  It reached its greatest height on the night of the 4th, when it was 6 feet 3 inches below the flood of January 1813.

This was followed by the March flood of 1818.  On the 2nd and 3d of February a snow storm occurred exceeding anything known at this place.  The depth of snow which fell at that time was 24 inches.  On the 9th and 10th the weather was extremely cold.  The snow remained for several weeks.  On the 28th February a good deal of snow fell.  On the 1st March the river commenced rising rapidly and continued to rise until the night of the 4th, when it reached its greatest height, which was 2-1/2 feet below the flood of January 1813.  This flood came mostly from the Muskingum.  At this time much damage was done at the East by floods; especially on the Hudson, which had not been so high for 40 years.

My own observations have led me to conclude that extremely high floods, depend on such a combination of circumstances, that no one can calculate beforehand when such a flood will come.  We cannot therefore conclude from any former experience, that we are certainly to have a high flood, when the rivers open again upon the melting of the snow.

A. T. N.

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