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Billy Joe Fudge: The difference between freshet and flood

JIM's treatise on the Early 20th Century Bridge-Building Boom, and the inclusion of the word 'freshet' inspires this essay from the Great Wooded South University's Linguistics Department on the distinction between the two words
Comments re article 72881 The Saga of the Plum Point Bridge (1900-1914)

By Billy Joe Fudge, Retired Forester
Kentucky Division of Forestry

Well now, one never knows from whence one's "learning gene" may be titillated. In this case it was the word, "freshet."

In all my years of study in the Great Wooded South University's Linguistics Department, "freshet" had never popped up on my or the Department's radar screen. So all those with PHD's from GWSU were contacted to correct this deficiency by which we were blindsided.


We all know and understand the word, "flood" and its meaning. A flood is, for the most part, "an overflowing of a stream or body of water onto and over areas of land that are normally dry."

It was quite obvious from the beginning that "freshet" was not just another word for "flood" that our forefathers used and which had been lost in the annals of time.

After much research, some of which reached as far as accessing a Russian Encyclopedia, the difference between "flood" and "freshet" was finally discerned.

I supposed the word "seasonal" would be the key to unlock this linguistic mystery.

"Floods" are normally a result of seasonal rainfalls of excess from thunderstorms, late spring rains, etc. As we can see this time of excessive rainfall occurred in early January.

"Freshets" are generally associated with excessive rainfall on frozen ground thereby creating immediate runoff, rainfall on snow causing rapid snowmelt creating excessive runoff and or excessive rainfall in frozen streams breaking up ice which consequently can create ice jams (dams of ice). These ice jams hold back water and ice and then collapse, releasing their reservoirs of millions of gallons of water and thousands of tons of ice which often devastates everything for a distance downstream. Any of these three scenarios could have caused the unforeseen destruction of the Plum Point Bridge.

Thanks for the story. Love each of them and I feel that my life is enriched by them.


This story was posted on 2015-02-01 12:37:54
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