By DAVID GREEN
Remember when it used to rain?
“It sure doesn’t happen very often,” said Morenci area climate observer George Isobar. “We had only about an inch and a third in nearly two months.”
The last big rain fell July 8, Isobar said, and only 1.39 has been measured since then.
“That includes a lucky six-tenths that came during a quick storm Aug. 14,” he said. “I call it lucky because it wasn’t very widespread. It missed Fayette. It missed Jasper. It was even a little bigger in Toledo.
“But without that storm, we’d be looking at less than an inch in just about two months time.”
That’s pretty slim, Isobar said, but it hasn’t yet approached drought level. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows southern Michigan as “abnormally dry,” but the nearest drought regions are southern Kentucky and northern Wisconsin.
“It looks like about a third of the country is in some degree of dryness right now,” he said. “That includes portions of Louisiana where there are a few areas of severe drought. That won’t be the case by the time you read this.”
How are area crops holding out?
Seneca farmer David Stutzman said that corn has suffered a little, but there should still be a good harvest.
“We should have had some rain in August,” he said. “Two inches and it would have been a good crop.”
There was adequate moisture at pollination, he said, and yields should remain fairly strong.
The soybean crop is a different matter. He’s not yet certain if it’s going to be “a little hurt or a big hurt,” but beans will be smaller and fewer in number.
There hasn’t been much grass mowing in recent weeks and Stutzman considers that a good rule of thumb.
“Any time we don’t have to mow our grass for a while, it’s not good for the crops,” he said.
The total rainfall measured by Isobar in August came in at nine-tenths of an inch which is about three inches below normal from the past 33 years of record-keeping. The long-term average for Toledo was two inches below normal.
“Either way, that’s a big departure from normal,” Isobar said. “We had a little bit of thunder on the 29th. Hardly enough to call it a thunderstorm.”
That’s unusual for August, too, he said. There’s an average of about five a month and he’s counted as many as a dozen.
“It’s easily the driest August we’ve had since 1976 when only four-tenths of an inch fell.”
There were only two days in the 90s, including the high of 94° on Aug. 23, and for the month, the average temperature for Toledo was listed as 0.8° above normal, buoyed up by three extra-warm days Aug. 22, 23 and 24.
The low came in at 47° on the morning of the 26th. That was one of two mornings with a temperature in the upper 40s, Isobar said.
The Toledo National Weather Service office reported 25 sunny or mostly sunny days last month.
There were many days in August with predictions of rain that just never came, Isobar said. If that pattern breaks in September, we should expect more than three inches to fall before the month ends.
“Farmers fear that it will break just about the time they want to get into the fields for harvest,” he said. “The average for the month is about 3.5 inches.”
After the hot weekend, Isobar says people might be pleased to know that most Septembers here bring at least one morning in the 30° range.
“They probably won’t be quite as pleased to know that occasionally there’s a low in the upper 20s.”