THE ALABAMA WHITEWATER GUIDE
Quick Tips (this page looks like crap)
Why have we done this?
How does it work?
What are these frames?
Flow Page automatic execution on the server
Overlaid map and Doppler precipitation estimate map? -need help
If the page/frames look bad, you may need to increase your screen resolution. If you have a 15” monitor, you may be out of luck. If you have WebTV, you are most likely out of luck. The page only seems to display one frame at a time with the resolution I've seen on WebTV. The page looks best at 1024 X 768 resolution.
You can return to the opening / intro. pages by clicking on the at the top of each side frame
Why have you done this?
The simple answer is I got carried away. The early part of winter 2000 was dry, and we had just bought a computer at home. In the past, I had been asked what were the runnable levels for our local runs based on the available phone and Internet gages. I compiled a list, but then realized that you could not just say a run was class III and turn people loose. Also, I had seen the proliferation of online guides for the Ozarks, California, Virginia, and the southeast, and saw that we could not keep the local information to ourselves. So instead I got out in front of the curve.
How does it work?
This page is meant to be your one stop shopping place for information on Alabama whitewater runs. What they are like and whether they are running. Maybe someday it will get there.
The two main upper and lower frames break down the info so you can simultaneously view related data. For instance, you can be looking at a topographic map or pictures of a run at the same time you are looking at its guidebook entry. Or, you can look at the state map in the top frame while you have the precipitation graph in the lower frame to estimate what runs might be running before the gages come up (or if there are no gages).
The frames can be resized vertically. Simply put your mouse pointer over the line dividing the frames, and drag the line up or down as desired.
The guide is an online version of a traditional guidebook. It draws most of its inspiration from the excellent Banks and Eckhardt Colorado River and Creeks Volumes I & II. Because this guide is on the web, you can actually check to see the latest gage and other information too. Here is a breakdown of the individual guide fields, what they mean, and how we filled them out:
Run: The name of the river or creek
Section: If the run has multiple sections, this is used
Class: The whitewater difficulty classification as defined by American Whitewater.
Gradient: For runs over class II, I normally used the mile by mile breakdown of gradient. So a run that is 3.4 miles long might have a gradient of 40, 20, 120, 20 (0.4). The first mile drops 40’, the second 20’, the third 120’, and the last 0.4 mile 40’. Therefore the reader can have a better of idea of difficulty if the run has uneven stretches of gradient. In the example, the run would have a gradient in most guidebooks of 59’/mile which sounds pretty nice. But you can see that the second mile clocks in at 120’/mile which may be more than the reader would normally go for. Still, I encourage you to look at the topo maps since gradient can be unevenly distributed within a mile. This caution is strongest on runs I have not done and/or are steep (over 100-150'/mile). For class V or steep IV runs, I may have a graphical gradient profile at the bottom of the guide page as well. It is not as accurate as the numbers but is interesting.
Length: Length in miles of the run section. If multiple access points are available, it will be discussed in the notes section
Shuttle: Shuttle roads, from put-in to take-out (usually/hopefully)
Water Q: Subjective water quality based on my observations. 3 chickens is nasty looking and smelling. People can get sick on 2 or 3 chicken run if they flip and get unlucky. The don't have to get unlucky on a three chicken run. sadly ther are few one chicken runs in Alabama.
MAP (lower frame): a USGS topographic map from Topozone.com. This is used for identifying access points and general steam features. You can change the scale and map area at your will.
Pictures: pictures of the run displayed in the lower frame
Put-in: Put-in(s) for the run section
Take-out: Take-out(s) for the run section
Delorme Gazeteer: The run section page and map coordinate(s) in the Alabama DeLorme Atlas and Gazeteer
Primary Gage: The level gage on that run used to directly
determine run level. If it is on the Internet, it will be hyperlinked.
Required Level: The required level on the primary gage for a minimum run. In many cases minimum may not be as much fun as higher levels. I do not like to quote ‘too high’ numbers because everyone has different comfort levels for big water. I’ll try to state in the notes where I think high water begins. If no primary gage exists, entry is ‘Visual’. In this case you must use your judgment or a visual clue may be offered in the notes section.
Indicator Gage: A gage usually located near the run
that can give an idea to the distant paddler whether the run might have enough water. This is where the art
comes in. The spin, the feel, the hunch, the experience, baby. If multiple indicator gages can be used,
they will be in subsequent columns.
Required Level: The required level on the indicator gage
A description of the run. I tend to go minimalist. I think it is more fun to discover the run for the first time yourself. However, anything new to you that is class IV or higher should be approached with caution or with a person-guide.
A linked list of runs in the guide organized by difficulty (classification)
A linked map of the state showing all the runs, color coded by class. Pop up labels with run names will come up if you are using Netscape Navigator. This is most useful when the bottom frame is displaying the Doppler precipitation estimate map. You can then get a feel for how much rain fell in various watersheds.
Let us know what you think. Correct mistakes, fill in blanks, etc.
Links to a few pages of interest. Suggestions are always
This is now working (2/01). It scrapes off levels from the TVA and USGS gages, then makes estimates on what runs are doable based on these levels. Most of these assume the gages are falling, so thin stuff such as Dry(Short) and Wolf almost have to be run on rising gages. Which is where precip. info comes in. In fact, almost any run indicated by long watershed runs such as Town or the Locust can be run at lower indicated levels than you would expect if Town or the Locust are still rising.
Links directly to the TVA and Alabama USGS gage pages
Radar: Links to the Intellicast Southeastern/Birmingham Radar page. Loops available too.
Forecast: Links to weather.com
Models: If this loads (can be slow), you can get the weather models directly, no weatherman needed. These will have cumulative precipitation estimate graphs. I am partial to the 48 hr ETA model. It can be irritatingly accurate.
Real Time: Links to several real-time weather stations at local TV stations and schools.
Graph: Displays the Intellicast Southeast Doppler Precipitation estimate, which is great in combination with the map on the upper frame to see in whose watershed the rain fell. It is updated every day at about 7am CT. It often overestimates precipitation. It also goes to the Doppler radars directly, which have almost real time precip estimates on a 1 hour loop and storm total. Watch out, the storm total goes away as soon as the rain stops. The individual Doppler estimates may tend to slightly underestimate precipitation totals.
TVA: Links directly to the TVA rain gages, which only report every 24 hrs at about 7 am CT
USGS: Links directly to the USGS rain gages, many of which are broken!