AskDefine | Define freshet

Dictionary Definition

freshet n : the occurrence of a water flow resulting from sudden rain or melting snow [syn: spate]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From Old French freschete, a diminutive of freis.

Pronunciation

IPA: /'fɹɛʃɪt/

Noun

  1. 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. Spring freshets associated with thaw events are sometimes accompanied by ice jams which can cause flash floods.
    • 1831: Log after log is hauled to the bank of the river, and in a short time their first raft is made on the shore and loaded with cordwood. When the next freshet sets it afloat, it is secured by long grapevines or cables until, the proper time being arrived, the husband and sons embark on it and float down the mighty stream. — John James Audubon, Early Settlers Along the Mississippi
  2. a small stream, especially one flowing into the sea
    • 1936: Between the kerbs and the snow-banks a freshet of clear blue water rises. Within me a freshet that chokes the narrow gorge of my veins. — Henry Miller, Black Spring

Extensive Definition

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. Spring freshets associated with thaw events are sometimes accompanied by ice jams which can cause flash floods.
freshet in Russian: Паводок
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