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Old 04-19-2015, 07:46 PM   #1
DickR
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Default How's your mud season been?

Without much to go by other than the gravel roads in my immediate area, I'm guessing that maybe mud season isn't/hasn't been as bad as it could have been this year. The extent of the mud in one notorious section near me was not as great this year as last, and one other stretch that more typically becomes a problem held up very well this year.

In the way of background, it's been my understanding that "mud season" happens when the frost in the surface ground melts, while the ground below it remains frozen, preventing drainage, leaving the surface a wet, muddy mess. I'm theorizing that this year, with March being relatively cooler, but without the really bitterly cold weather of mid-winter, ground heat below the frost caused the depth of frost to recede significantly before thawing from top down became appreciable, so that the ultimate thawing of the surface wasn't so problematic. I've no idea if this is the case. Perhaps others can comment on how their mud season has been and whether there is anything to my reasoning.
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:54 PM   #2
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Default Mud

Ask next week after 5 days of rain.
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Old 04-19-2015, 08:33 PM   #3
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Your theory is pretty close. Mud season this year was much better than prior ones. (We would know. We live on a 2.5 mi. dirt road)

I think it was due to the high snow cover for most of the winter. The snow insulated things so the frost line didn't go too deep, and also helped the heat from below to warm things up quickly.
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Old 04-20-2015, 06:39 AM   #4
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Default Mud

Perhaps the lesser amount of water in the snow compared to heavy, wet snow storms also contributed to mud that didn't seem to last as long- at least in Belmont
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Old 04-20-2015, 08:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DickR View Post
...but without the really bitterly cold weather of mid-winter...
Certainly don't understand this part of your theory. This was one of the most bitterly cold winters on record. It's why most of the snow storms had such light, fluffy snow. But like insulation, the trapped air spaces helped keep the ground insulated and allowed the earths heat from below to keep the frost line from going too deep.
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:59 PM   #6
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Default Mud

Went to pick the dog up in Sandwich a couple of weeks ago, and let me tell you, there was a good 12 inches of YUK!! Had to park the truck next to snow/ice just to get out, and onto something solid. On a brighter note, my front yard usually will fill up with water, if it's been a bad season...not this year, nor has it filled for the last 4 or so. I'll take the lighter snow and colder weather every winter, if that's what it takes to keep the "duck pond" from forming in my yard Happy Spring
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrymeeting View Post
"...but without the really bitterly cold weather of mid-winter..." --- Certainly don't understand this part of your theory. This was one of the most bitterly cold winters on record. It's why most of the snow storms had such light, fluffy snow. But like insulation, the trapped air spaces helped keep the ground insulated and allowed the earths heat from below to keep the frost line from going too deep.
Deep ground is a source of heat; the temperature down there reflects the average year round temperature of the air above it over centuries. In winter, that heat is moving upward toward the cold, establishing a temperature profile that starts at deep ground temperature way down, dropping to 32 F up at the depth of frost, and dropping still further on up to near the surface. The temperature of the topmost layer will swing up and down somewhat according to air temperature. The lower the average day/night air temperature, the deeper the frost line gets.

March, while certainly much colder this year than the typical March, still was not as cold, on average, as January and February of this year. Thus March ought to have seen the frost line recede upward somewhat as the month progressed, while the cooler than average air temperature would have delayed thawing from the surface downward. While this might be a reasonable explanation of what I observed locally, I do have to wonder whether the effect was really important enough or if what I saw simply reflected the lower total water content of this year's snowfall.

Certainly the dry, fluffy nature of the snow this year would both reduce the total water content and also insulate the ground under it, keeping the frost level up higher, except perhaps under plowed roadways. I imagine that some road sections, due to their location and makeup of the material constituting the top foot or more, always will be trouble spots, no matter how deep the frost got.
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Old 04-21-2015, 07:57 AM   #8
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Last week was bad with the melting, running off the hill into the driveway. Rebuilt the drive 2 years ago.. Ruined. Hired my snow plow guy, gonna redo it good and raise it above the road crown.
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Old 04-21-2015, 03:32 PM   #9
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Last week was bad with the melting, running off the hill into the driveway. Rebuilt the drive 2 years ago.. Ruined. Hired my snow plow guy, gonna redo it good and raise it above the road crown.
I, too, had trouble with both surface and subsurface water coming off the hill above my driveway. During mud season, the uphill edge couldn't be driven on; heck, I couldn't stand on parts of it until everything under it thawed and drained away. A year and a half ago I hired someone to cut in a french drain on the uphill side. This was a fabric-lined trench, with stone above perforated pipe, with the top of the fabric lapped over and covered with a few inches more of stone. The result has been worth it. The drain intercepts ground water and takes it to daylight on both ends, where it can run on down hill where I want it to go. No more Jello-like driveway.

Subsurface water migrating downhill is considerable. My drain runs out both ends much of the year. Right now it's quite a flow, a mix of meltwater and yesterday's rain. That will taper off considerably toward summer. At times it will dry up totally. At the end of the fall it continues to run well after the first snow has come.
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