August 10th, 2009


Hydrologically Stupid

I was watching the old classic "How the West Was Won" yesterday and had to do a major *facepaws* There's a big action scene where a family heading down river on a raft is suddenly swept into an awesome rapid. Someone makes the statement, "Oh no! We must have taken the wrong fork!" That's when I did my *facepaws* Rivers do sometimes take different paths. There are islands and sometimes various channels. You may end up in a branch that gets too shallow or you may end up in a channel where there is a waterfall as opposed to a steep rapids, but overall it doesn't make that much difference. There is a misconception that if you take the "wrong fork" you may end up in Houston instead of New Orleans. Sorry. Rivers don't work that way if you're heading downstream. On the Niagara River if you take the "wrong fork" you may end up going over the American Falls instead of the Horseshoe Falls. You're still going over falls! If you're headed upstream, that's a different story. If you followed the wrong fork going up the Mississippi, you could end up in Kansas City instead of Minneapolis. There are very few places where you could end up in vastly different locations heading downstream. I can only think of river deltas.

And now you know. And knowing is half the battle!