Freshet

Freshet

[fresh-it]
A freshet can refer to one of two things:

  • A flood resulting from heavy rain or a spring thaw. Whereas heavy rain often causes a flash flood, a spring thaw event is generally a more incremental process, depending upon local climate and topography. The term freshet is most commonly used to describe a spring thaw resulting from snow and ice melt in rivers located in the northern latitudes of North America, particularly Canada, where rivers are frozen each winter and thaw during the spring. A spring freshet can sometimes last several weeks on large river systems, resulting in significant inundation of flood plains as the snow pack melts in the river's watershed. An example of usage is shown in the accompanying figure, which shows the historic marker at Durgin Bridge near Sandwich NH. Spring freshets associated with thaw events are sometimes accompanied by ice jams which can cause flash floods.
  • A stream or river of fresh water which empties into the ocean, usually flowing through an estuary.

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