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Published: Tuesday, 8/5/2003

Rain puts damper on summertime fun

BY GEORGE J. TANBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It was a cold and snowy winter followed by a cold and wet spring.

For an encore, the weather is singing the same tune, one we're all too familiar with:

It's been rainy. It's been cool. And the sun has been an infrequent visitor.

What gives?

“A weakness in between a trough has been sitting over us,” said meteorologist Paul Tastelok of AccuWeather, a private forecasting service in State College, Pa.

Weatherspeak aside, the result has been greener lawns, fewer golf matches, damaged crops, lower electric bills, and unusually swollen streams for this time of year.

Friday through Sunday - the first three days of August - the Toledo area received almost half the normal August rainfall of 3.9 inches. In July, 4.04 inches of rain fell, 1.2 inches above normal. June's rainfall was slightly below normal, but since June 1 rainfall is two inches above normal, Mr. Tastelok said.

The rain continued to fall yesterday, with as much as three inches in Bowling Green; Toledo, on the other hand, got less than a quarter-inch. In Findlay, the National Weather Service reported a third of an inch.

In terms of the temperature, this has not been the best summer for swimming. Last year, the thermometer reached 90 degrees or more 38 days. It has done so only three days this year: one in June and two last month, Mr. Tastelok said.

This summer's wet, temperate weather has had a serious impact on the area's yet-to-be-harvested soybean and corn crops.

“We've probably lost 10 percent of our [soy bean] yield and could lose another 10 to 20 percent if this weather continues. The same thing for corn,” Ohio State University agronomist Jim Beuerlein said.

Such crops usually require warm, sunny days and frequent rain - but not this much rain, Mr. Beuerlein said.

Unaffected is the area's wheat crop, which has been harvested.

Area golf courses - usually an accurate barometer of summer weather - have suffered too. Play at Bedford Hills Golf Club in Temperance has been down most of season.

“[The weather] has had a very strong impact this year,” said Bill Johnson, general manager.

A cold winter and unusually cool spring that lasted well into June put the course behind. Last month, however, turned out well as the big rains fell earlier in the week, when the course was less crowded and income from the weeknight golf leagues had already been collected, Mr. Johnson said.

Then came August and the never-ending rain, which has meant only a single positive.

“Our course has never looked this good this time of year,” Mr. Johnson said.

The cooler, damper weather has had a pleasant effect on utility bills as homeowners rely less on air conditioning to keep them comfortable. A Toledo Edison spokesman confirmed that electricity consumption is down so far this summer over last year.

“We haven't had the heat we had last year,” said Chuck Dewitz, an area manager for the utility. “We have only had a couple of days reach 90 degrees, and at this time last year, we had a drought and quite a few more days over 90.”

While Cedar Point officials have pointed to the weather as one reason for lackluster attendance, the area's parks have not been affected, said Scott Carpenter, spokesman for Metroparks District of the Toledo Area..

“People adapt and come when the weather suits them,” he said.

However, the wet weather has felled many park trees, causing other problems. The popular eight-mile tow path between Farnsworth Metropark in Waterville and Providence Metropark in Grand Rapids is closed, as it has been on several occasions this summer.

“It's blocked right now,” Mr. Carpenter said. “We just getting started cleaning it up from one storm and we get another.”

The present weather system has been locked in since September, Mr. Tastelok said. The result was the area's coldest and snowiest winter in years, the cool spring, and the wet summer.

The same system has ended a four-year drought in the South and Southeast, where record rainfalls have occurred regularly since spring. Conversely, the usually wet northwest has been hot and dry.

Mr. Tastelok said current conditions likely will continue for the next several weeks, if not longer.

“It doesn't mean summer is completely gone, but there might not be a long duration of warm weather left if this pattern continues,” he said.

More ominous to cold-weather haters, another frigid winter could be possible if the system declines to budge.



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