Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How High Are You?

We don't live in Washington -- or Colorado.  This is not about weed.  

It is about elevation dear reader, more or less universally defined as the number of feet above or below sea level (mean high tide).

Backyard elevation, Elevation Finder screenshot.
There is a neat tool available on the web called Elevation Finder. You can use it to find how high you are in your own backyard, or anywhere else for that matter. Here in Bozeman the listed elevation is 4,820 feet. We live a mile or so out of town and up the valley. Elevation Finder yields a precise 4,929.850 foot altitude for our back yard, 110 feet above town. A person would have to go a few miles further up the road to get a Denver mile high.

I use Elevation Finder to scope out local golf courses. With mountains all about and multiple river valleys, it is often difficult to gauge direction and degree of slope by the naked eye. For example, the 18th hole at Cottonwood Hills in Bozeman appears to be an uphill climb, when it actually drops about 15 feet tee to green, because the downward slope of the valley predominates over the localized ridge. Having that knowledge is a difference of between one and two clubs, which is critically important because if you knock your approach shot over the green on the 18th you can pretty much kiss your ball good bye.

If you have an inkling to purchase property anywhere near a watercourse it's best to check out the plot with elevation finder to aid in assessing flood risk.  

Along the Atlantic seaboard the tool can help you understand how vulnerable to flooding was most of the property that was damaged by super storm Sandy (and why we shouldn't be throwing public funds at restoring and protecting those properties -- the sea always wins ultimately).  

Take for example the tip of Manhattan.

Here is a photo of a flooded underpass near Battery Park in the storm's aftermath.  

Battery Park underpass flooded by super storm Sandy.

Here is the same underpass high and dry.

Battery Park underpass dried out.

Elevation finder shows the flooded roadway is but 3.538 feet above the ocean

Battery Park underpass elevation.

 It is not to wonder why.


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