Cascading Waters can be found at 135 Olean Street on the eastern edge of Worcester's northwest parklands, the Cascades. The Cascades are 350 acres of park and conservation lands along the borders of Worcester, Paxton, and Holden, Massachusetts. Home to countless species of plants and animals, the Cascades are open to passive recreation year-round.

Monday, April 30, 2012

7:00 AM conditions at the Lodge:

35.6 degrees F and rising;
29.50" of pressure and steady;
49% humidity and steady;
0" of precipitation recorded;
3.00" of flow in the Cascades Brook;
HIGH is the USFS Fire Danger Class;
0-3.0mph occasional breeze;

The sun through the leaves creates a dappled lighting, which is all the more wondrous when you look east through the forest and see the sparkling reflections of light bouncing off of Cook's pond agitated by the wind. The whole effect is worth stopping for and taking it in.

Yesterday we had an adventurer, intent on scrambling on Wunneompset, stop into the Lodge before heading out solo to check in and leave contact information. Smart dude.

You will begin to find that even in a drought there is a touch more moisture in the woods now. The leaves shield the forest floor form the sun while trapping the moisture from evaporating away. There is some moisture in the air that cycles in and out with the changes of humidity and temperature. On top of all of that the brooks are still running and the vernal pools have not yet dried up. It IS dry out there, but a bit less so.

Sun and Warmth

9:45 am conditions 4/29 at the Lodge:
The Cascades Brook is flowing at 3.12";
The temperature is 50.4° F and rising;
The humidity is 37% and steady;
The pressure is 29.35" of Hg and steady;
There was no precipitation recorded;
There is an occasional breeze;
The USFS Fire Danger Class is HIGH;
Blue skies with sun.
Simply a gorgeous day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We made it!

We are finally back down to a more normal "LOW" fire danger level today!
At nine am, it is 44.2 degrees and steady.
61% humidity and steady.
The barometer is 28.67 and steady under overcast skies.
Light wind of 3 mph
There is a high pollen alert issued for today (though I suspect that will not be news to some of you!).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rising Brook Watch!

We will post the rise of the brook with the falling rain as we are able.
This specific post will be periodically updated.

1:00 pm 4/22/2012 RAINFALL: 0.28" BROOK LEVEL: 1.88"
6:00 pm 4/22/2012 RAINFALL: 0.50" BROOK LEVEL: 3.36"
8:30 pm 4/22/2012 RAINFALL: 0.60" BROOK LEVEL: 3.84"
2:00 am 4/23/2012 RAINFALL: 1.08" BROOK LEVEL: 7.20"
6:00 am 4/23/2012 RAINFALL: 1.50" BROOK LEVEL: 7.80"
8:00 am 4/23/2012 RAINFALL: 1.61" BROOK LEVEL: 9.36"

Current conditions as of 2:00am:
Temperature: 40.6 degrees F and steady
Humidity: 97% and steady
Pressure: 28.73" and steady
5mph breeze - 23mph wind
Raining steadily

Flood Watch!

Already over 0.28" of rain have been recorded here at the Lodge and according to the weather forecast we haven't even begun to see the rain headed our way tonight!

2-3" of rain, with a little more tomorrow. Some chance of limited convection allowing local instances of up to 4".

Let me put this in perspective for you. When you build a parking lot or a subdivision and need to design the drainage system, you are required to design to handle a major rain event of 1" in a short stretch. Welcome to the new universe! Multiply that bad boy by 2x or 3x or more! In other words we are talking a rainstorm that many areas were simply never designed to handle.

Want to know a spooky secret? This isn't unusual anymore campers. The number of times the Worcester DPW needed to use flood diversion once was fairly rare. Now they do it at least annually. The guys who manage the pipes for us already know our world operates differently whether or not the regulations have caught up with that reality or the public has yet to grasp fully our new situation.

Want to know something else spooky? Many years ago I sat at a conference on the local impacts of climate change and someone asked what we ought to expect to see. The answer was more extremes. More long dry periods broken up by heavier flooding than used to be the case. Time is the ultimate validator of theory and I will say that our time here at the Lodge certainly gives credence to those ideas. More so the flooding until recent. Now both halves of the theory can be argued to be in play.

Since a baseline is useful in measuring impacts know that as of 1 pm the Cascades Brook was flowing at 1.88". Let's see how high that gets! Buckle in!

UPDATE: 6:00pm Cascades Brook depth is 3.36", up from 1.88" at 1:00pm

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I had the luxury of hiking this morning without a trash bag, or clippers, or paint brush, or camera. A rare treat!

Up Cascades Trail, Meadow Ridge Trail, River Trail, Mower Cart Path to Rte. 122 at Camp Street. Then River Trail, Silver Spring Trail, to Cascades Trail back to the Lodge.

A warm dry wind blew through the forest. That is great for keeping you cool and dry but keeps the fire danger level up at VERY HIGH.

At 11:30am the temperature was 77 degrees, which is part of our warm and dry pattern.

The trail is not soil but dust. Where normally would be boggy it is soil. Amazingly the streams still trickle away and have not dried up. While distressed a bit the main vernal pools still have water.

The weather promises rain starting this weekend. We have heard these things before and we don't always see them borne out. We will wait and see.

Friday, April 13, 2012

No, really: VERY HIGH

When we say the fire danger is VERY HIGH, it does mean even at the location below.
No burning in the woods, please.
Yeah, I'm sure you thought you put it out. Any of those embers given a breeze, or one of the burned sticks you left on the pine needles, could have gone up. Fifteen gallons of water later, it's out now.

And with thanks to the Rileys for reporting it.Please do if you see something similar!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rain at Last!

Last night, lying under the angle of the roof in the Lodge I heard the most wonderful and welcome sound,


In over ten days here at the Lodge we have not had enough rain to be recordable. We have seen "red flag" fire danger warnings. We have watched area open spaces have brush fires. We have even see one of our invasive exotic ground covers turn yellow for lack of water!

And then there was rain! Audible, sustained, and badly needed.

It is not enough to remove fire danger, to refill the reservoirs, or to significantly impact the brooks, but it is enough to be a real help to the forest's spring plant life. Expect vivid greens in the understory today on your hike.

Conditions as of 9:45 am:

49.5° F and steady;
55% humidity and falling;
29.18" of Hg pressure and rising;
0.04" of rainfall recorded;
Light occasional breeze;
Broken clouds with sun.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More Activity Here at the Lodge

It has been busy!

Today alone:

Jacob of the Dynamy program was here finishing the waterproofing of the tent platform,

Before heading out to Cooks Woods and Kinneywoods to measure trail distances,

And Dan swung by to grab 3 oak planks to rip them for trail signs, and

I was loading up gear from the shed to do boundline posting at Southwick Pond.

Another day without rain.

Good for drying stained wood, bad for plants.

And the Cascades Brook is getting low.

Monday, April 09, 2012


A red flag warning went into effect yesterday; it remains in effect until tonight. We continue to have strong winds and low relative humidity. ANY fire under these conditions will spread rapidly. Additionally, we are classifying today's fire danger as HIGH VERY HIGH.
There was a brush fire off of Grafton Street last night; a dead hydrant forced the closing of Grafton Street for some time. That property over there is a wetland (yes, swamps can burn) behind a neighborhood of homes. WFD and the Forestry department kept the fire away from the houses ('though I heard it got scarily close). Between three and five acres burned.
Please be particularly careful with fire today.
At 8 am, the temperature here is 43.5 degrees and steady.
Humidity is 59% and steady.
The barometer is 28.70 inches of mercury and steady under very overcast skies.  Doubtful that we will get any rain, though.
The stream is continuing to run.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Fire at Parson's Cider Mill

So far we're just getting this off the Twitter feeds of Ch. 3 and the T&G, but it sounds as though Parson's Cider Mill (owned by the city parks, conservation restriction by GWLT) is on fire. 
Fire danger is HIGH today.
And yes, Parson's Cider Mill is also pyrogenic, like Crow Hill.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


A bit chillier out there than the sunshine might suggest today: it's 39.2 degrees and rising with a wind at 9 am.
The humidity is 39%: really low for spring. Fire danger is MODERATE.
This morning, we were lucky enough to see a muskrat eating, swimming, and generally having a great time across the street at Cook's Pond.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Drying out

We are posting a HIGH fire danger today. The rain, what there was of it, is moving out. The winds and sun will dry us right back out again

Fire Paradox

So, it has sprinkled rain Saturday, then it snowed a little. Yesterday it rained overnight, enough to get recorded! The fire danger sank to LOW.

But today is a new day. A day with sun and a breeze, and while 0.12" of rain is more than we have seen in quite a while, the parched earth and plants, the thirsty wind, and the sun are a strong combination.

The USFS fire danger, which tends towards the conservative, is back up to HIGH for today. Usually that means that tomorrow they will give us the actual observed class and it may likely have been VERY HIGH.

Be thoughtful out there please.

7:30 am Conditions at the Lodge:

38.1°F and steady;
84% humidity and steady;
28.85" of Hg pressure and steady;
0.12" of rain recorded overnight;
Steady 3.5mph breeze with some variation;
Overcast but offering signs of breaking up.