After seeing and mourning the destruction caused by the flood, we wondered just what had happened to allow the river to catch us off-guard. While we moved as swiftly as possible once we realized what was happening, we were certainly not expecting a flood that night. There has been only one other major flood in the twenty-seven year history of the hyena project, during January 1998. This one, however, was much higher than the last, and occurred during what has historically been the dry season in Kenya.
Our friends Chris Dutton and Amanda Subalusky at The Mara Project have data loggers positioned along the Talek River, which allow us to see what actually happened on that fateful night. At the beginning, the river rose 2.5 meters (8 feet!) within an hour. At that point, it breached its banks, so while the volume of water continued to grow exponentially, its height changed more slowly. In total, the river rose 5 meters (16 feet) that night, which explains how so much of our camp was underwater within the span of a few hours.
|A graph of the Talek River depth including |
the night of June 13th (from MaMaSe)