We had horrible storms today, with enormous hail and a tornado within five miles of us. Not to let an opportunity pass me by, I decided to set my camera and flash up, and try to catch the raindrop splashdowns on the deck. I shot about 300 frames, and had a few nice images out of the bunch, this one being the best of the lot.
Almost anyone will tell you that I like weather. I pay attention to the weather like no one I know. I’ve always done that, but I have an even heightened interest in it since I bought my Jeep last year. I like knowing when I can take the doors off, when I can take the windows out, and when I can keep the roof down. Today, the doors were off, and the windows were out. No biggie, I thought. After all, knowing about the weather is something I kinda pride myself of, which is what makes today so weird.
I had to go to SoCo this morning, and didn’t really pay any attention to the weather. We had gray skies, and nothing threatening, so I didn’t even give the skies a second thought. While in SoCo, I started hearing thunder. Again, I didn’t think much about it. I’ve driven my Jeep in the rain without the doors on in the rain, and never really thought too much of it. However, today, about ten miles from home, I encountered a moonsoon with rain blowing all the way across the interior of the Jeep. To say the least, I was totally soaked.
Becky (who wasn’t with me) and I started doing some damage control, drying the carpet (drenched), drying the seats (wet) and trying to figure out how to dry the thing out. We learned new things about the Jeep today — how to remove the rear carpet, and where the drain plugs are. And man, did the drain plugs need to be removed. Small rivers drained out of the bottom of the floorboard, and the removed carpet drained and drained.
Like Beck said, if you’re smiling when you’re driving, it was worth it. And I smiled. I smiled while I couldn’t see through my glasses and the windshield at the height of the storm front. I smiled when I aimed for the puddles on the road. And I smiled while we dissected the Jeep to help get the water out of it. I even smiled when I set up the fans in the garage to help dry the seats.
I’d still put a wet day in my Jeep up against a dry day in just about any other vehicle!
Earlier in the week, we got over 10″ of rain across two days. The farther south you looked, the more rain had fallen by the time it was done, with places reporting well over a foot of rain. Unbelievable. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen rain like that.
Given where the rain had fallen, the impact to the rivers south of St. Louis was major and significant. Whole towns were underwater, with crests only being seen this weekend. After seeing so much of this, I decided to take the family out on a little safe sightseeing, and understand what was going on around us.
There were two areas I knew would be pretty safe, and reasonably easy to get to. One was just over the ridge from us, near Eureka High School, and the other was the major intersection of I-44 and Highway 141. Both were major roads, and should give us a good view of what the Meramec River was doing.
We started over the ridge on Old State Road. The radio (and the flashing signs) were indicating Highway 109 was closed at Old State, and only halfway down the hill, we were stopped by a police officer. As it ends up, he was directing traffic around an SUV that had run off the road into a tree. We breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that we hadn’t yet been stopped by the water, and continued over the hill towards Glencoe. When we came off the hill, and onto the flat at Glencoe, we came face-to-face with the Meramec, and realized just how bad things were.
Eureka High School’s ball fields were completely underwater. In fact, they were so underwater that folks were kayaking on the flooded fields. The Eureka police made that a short-lived event, calling the kayakers over, and having some words with them. There was quite a crowd parking on the side of Highway 109, shooting photos, and all talking in amazement at the level of the water. We stayed and shot for a while, and decided to head to Fenton, where I-44 and Highway 141 meet, and to see first hand the incredible depth of water covering Highway 141. We got in the truck, marvelling at the water lapping at the edge of Highway 109, and headed south to I-44 at Eureka.
We drove east on I-44, again seeing the water close to the road, and decided to pull off at the Route 66 State Park site. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let us onto the bridge, which is where the best view of the water was. However, they did allow us access to the decking off the welcome center, and from there, we could see the Meramec flowing swiftly, beating up everything in its path. That was pretty doggone impressive. The crest had already hit there, and the water was now a foot below that crest… I’m not sure we would’ve noticed the difference.
From the park, we headed east again on I-44, knowing that we’d need to figure out some way to come up Highway 141 from the south. We passed the intersection, and hit the next exit (Bowles), and circled around to Highway 141, coming at the flooded intersection from the south. Two things struck me as we pulled off the road. One was the sheer volume of water. The other was the circus that was taking place there.
There were hundreds of people, and more than a handful of news crews, all there to cover the flood from what was probably the most photogenic spot around. I’d already seen this intersection on the NBC’s Nightly News, and could tell from the crowds that everyone had decided this was the place to come. And frankly, it was a pretty well-behaved crowd, and despite the throng, and the IQ lowering effect that usually has, I didn’t see anyone trying anything stupid. The police were good natured about it, and were letting folks gather and watch, taping and photographing this incredible muscle flexing of nature. It was truly amazing.
While we were there, a Coast Guard rescue helicopter flew over us, presumably just looking around, just in case. That’s definitely an unusual sight in Fenton!
It was a fun tour, a thing of sheer amazement, and left us with a sense of thankfulness that we weren’t party to any of its destructive force.