As you may know, drought-stricken California has just gotten so much precipitation that skiing will continue in Tahoe until August while the lower elevations are beginning to resemble a Louisiana bayou. A particular levee in Tulare Lake Basin, a farming region in the San Joaquin Valley, exemplifies the failure of systems designed to handle a known quantity of precipitation (read: not much).

The trouble with the long-drained Tulare Lake is that it periodically reappears after heavy rains, which wreaks havoc on the farmland’s complicated water-delivery systems. And yesterday, after a levee failed, local farmers came up with a swift and smart solution: Drive a couple trucks into the breach.


This concept immediately raises a number of problems, including whether two of the region’s least-preferred half-ton trucks would be able to stop raging floodwaters. To get ahead of that difficulty, our dam-building maestros packed the beds of the trucks—a Chevrolet Silverado and a Ford F-150—with an amount of dirt definitely exceeding their rated payload, an insult that would look petty compared to what transpired next.

In this video sent on Twitter by farmer Cannon Michael, the bed and roof of the F-150 are coated in what appears to be dense earth. “How did they manage to do that?

As the truck approached its watery demise, less cautious individuals might have attempted a stuntman drop-and-roll out the driver-side door

The Chevrolet looks to have a column shifter, making this manoeuvre marginally less risky, but our muddy protagonist must still be alert once the LS V-8 is placed in gear. Which he does, pausing to see the Silverado’s brief journey from the top of the levee to the bottom, where it lodges against the F-150 and appears to prevent. The men in the video appear satisfied with the outcome.

They might have taken a slightly different path if they’d had more time and heavy machinery. According to a 1997 Los Angeles Times article, the Tulare Lake levees were reinforced using crushed automobiles during the 1969 floods. Some, though, likely did not enter under their own strength. We can all agree that this is the innovation here.

We hope the strategy was successful and the truck-based dam was stable. However, if you encounter an inexpensive blue Silverado or extended-cab F-150 4×4 for sale in the San Joaquin Valley in a few months, you should do a comprehensive pre-purchase check.