With historic floods washing hundreds of cars away in the southeastern France and the US Southeast, people are taking to bikes to get around.
Flooding in the French Riviera
The city of Cannes in the French Riviera normally receives 70 mm (2.7 inches) of rain for the entire month of October. A record 107 mm (4.2 in) fell in a single hour, smashing through the previous 70 mm one hour record. Several locations throughout the French Riviera in the southeast of France reported 200 mm (8 in) and more of rain over this last weekend, flooding streets and washing cars into the sea. News agencies report the 17 who perished in the floods include elderly who drowned in their homes, and numerous individuals who were trapped in their cars in tunnels and underground parking garages when flash floods swept over them.
Millennial flooding for South Carolina
The state of South Carolina declared a state of emergency as rain continues falling in amounts that climatologists and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley say occur only once in a thousand years.
Emergency responders and state officials urge residents to stay home and stay off of the roads. Cars can be swept away even in seemingly shallow flowing water. The same applies for people on foot or on bikes. I know from personal experience that even SUVs can stall out if you’re stupid and try to drive fast through several inches of water.
Take caution when biking through flooded streets
If you need to venture out on your bike for bread and milk, remember the warning about flowing water. Standing water can also hide submerged hazards such as potholes and rocks, forcing you to flip over when you hit them with your front wheel. Public health officials warn that flood waters are generally contaminated with disease causing pathogens. Venomous snakes are also a hazard during flooding.
The epic deluge in the Carolinas have so far resulted in over a dozen deaths and an estimated $1 billion in damage. This rain system is the latest in a unprecedented year of prolonged torrential rain events across parts of the United States. Texas and Oklahoma recorded their wettest months on record last Spring. Higher temperatures means more moisture evaporating form the ocean into rain-making storm systems, making intense short-term rains even heavier in many parts of the world.
The changing climate also confounds the usual models predicting global weather for an El Nino year, especially for the exceptionally strong El Nino forming now in the Pacific. Hurricane Joaquin should not have happened — an El Nino event typically reduces the likelihood of hurricanes, and those that do form don’t become the Category 4 monster that pummelled the Bahamas last week.
Bonus: Paddleboard the bike path
This photo from last summer shows some flooding on the Cherry Creek Trail in Denver, Colorado last June. I may consider something like this when my primary commute route along the Guadalupe River Trail in San Jose, CA inevitably floods during winter rainstorms. The Guadalupe River is about a Class II run in heavy rain, but the numerous strainers give me significant pause.
Oh no, they say he’s got to go, go go Godzilla!