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HomeNL-2016-07 Brazos River

Brazos River Flood Stage
June 6, 2016
by David Jacobs

On Monday, June 6th, 2016, it was an easy put-in at the grass-covered bank of the swollen canal, a short carry from the Cheddar's restaurant parking lot, near HWY 6 and University Blvd.  I then moved the car to a street-side parking space, just to make sure it wouldn't get towed.

Then, it was almost a one hour paddle, down the canal to the Brazos River, shown at track point 13 on the zoomed-in map below:
In the canal just above point 13 was a fisherman in his fishing boat. I had seen his truck and boat trailer backed up to the canal, just below Lexington Blvd. He was staying out of the Brazos! From Sugar Land Memorial Park to my turn-around point, at the HWY 59 bridge, the Brazos was basically wide and flat.

Most of the whirlpools were small. But there were a few whirlpools large enough to abruptly change my boat direction!

Had to switch back and forth across the river several times, to stay on the inside of the bends to make upstream progress. Upstream progress was easy in the protected, flooded areas, off of the main river. See track point 19 on the map above, and note that the flooded area actually expanded farther to the left of point 19, by about the same distance as from point 18 to 19.

The boat was a fast, Necky Arluk II, 18 foot sea kayak, which I can roll.

There wasn't much debris floating in the water, only a few relatively small things. The large things, such as the whole trees I have seen before, must have already been washed away during the previous days of high water.

I only had to be careful not to get washed backwards into small trees standing in the water, as I made my way upstream along the banks. There were no high cliffs, with trees perched on them ready to fall in the water. The river was far enough over flood stage that it covered over the cliffs. The adjacent, Sugar Land Memorial Park was completely under water, up to its entrance gate.

There were lots of bugs. I started to paddle under the Hwy 59 bridge, but turned away because of the thick cloud of bugs! I was glad to have a bug net, to put over my head, but wished I had put it on at the start of the trip! I picked up this gem from REI, and also saw them at Outdoor World. Increases paddler comfort around rivers. It is compact, and easy to put on and take off. Has low tension elastic at the neckline.

I was able to paddle part-way up the Northbound feeder road of the Hwy 59 turn-around.

The water's edge was at the cluster of tracking points shown in the next illustration:
Below Hwy 59, the river's speed was 3.9 to 4.0 mph, in mid-stream.
I thought it would be faster, but I guess the speed is determined by the gradient, rather than by the amount of water. An aside: it is usually about 1 mph faster at Rosenberg than at Hwy 59.

On the way back, river speed + paddling speed got up to over 10 mph for a short distance, just downstream from Hwy 59. Notice the bow wake in the next picture.
Back in the canal, the fisherman had moved just upstream to University Blvd. The sun was starting to go down, so I had turned my head light on. He took my picture, as I paddled by. Take out time back at Cheddar's was 9:08 PM.
“Explanation” data on Monday, June 6, 2016 6:25 PM:
Discharge was 80,300 cfs
Total precipitation since June 2nd was 1.8 inches.
Gage height was 50.04 feet. (Flood stage is 48 feet.)

The author, David Jacobs