As Triangle residents tire of rain, relief may finally be on the way

cowens@newsobserver.com krupp@newsobserver.comJuly 2, 2013 

Never mind all the fancy meteorological terms for the Triangle’s wet weather of the past week. Kids taking part in a triathlon-training camp sum it up in three words of their own: “Cloudy. Muddy. Floody.”

Across the area, residents continued to deal with abnormally soggy conditions Tuesday.

Flooding cleanup continued in Chapel Hill, as the National Weather Service extended the latest flash flood watch into Wednesday evening.

Town leaders kept a wary eye on the skies and their planned Fourth of July festivities. Garner made the call to move its Wednesday night celebration to Friday night.

And from swimming pools to summer camps, people hoped for some relief.

“High pressure normally means nice weather, blue skies, sunshine,” said Don Schwenneker, meteorologist at ABC-11. “But on the edge of it, you can get into what is being rotated around it. So right now it is pulling moisture across us, and we are getting pounded.”

Schwenneker said a “Bermuda High,” an area of high pressure that forms over the Atlantic Ocean during the summer and is a key weather player for most of the Eastern United States, is to blame for the recent heavy rainfall. North Carolina is on the edge of the system and, because the Bermuda High rotates clockwise, it pumps water from the ocean onto the East Coast.

Last month was the third wettest June on record for North Carolina, with 10.08 inches of rain – 6.56 inches above the state’s June average of 3.52 inches.

The good news is that by Thursday, Schwenneker expects the heavy rain to stop and the ground to begin drying. But he acknowledged that making summer forecasts is difficult.

At Raleigh’s Optimist Park on Tuesday, young participants in the Kids Tri Camp were making the best of the wet weather as they swam, biked and ran to train for triathlons.

“I don’t need to shower now!” joked Caroline Bauldree, 11, after getting caught in a downpour.

The Bermuda High also has the advantage of keeping extremely hot weather away. The average temperature for June is 87 degrees, but this year the June average was 85 degrees. And June’s high, 94 degrees, was 11 degrees lower than last June’s high of 105 degrees, Schwenneker said.

Winners and losers

Rain creates problems for people like Terri Stroupe, aquatics director for the city of Raleigh. City pools must shut down for 30 minutes following thunder or lightning, sometimes interrupting swim team practices, swim lessons, camps or family outings.

Farmers also might be affected by excessive rain, said Michael Moneypenny of the National Weather Service.

“There is the risk of the roots being drowned and farmers facing that loss of income,” he said.

But Stephen Davenport, owner of Raleigh Lawn Care and Landscaping, said soggy weather brings him more business because grass grows quicker than normal and storms leave behind debris that needs to be cleaned from yards.

“I’m glad it’s wet because of the simple fact that when the grass grows, my money grows,” he said.

Rainfall also means business picks up at AMF Pleasant Valley Lanes, a local bowling alley. Patrick Eckstein, a counter attendant, said lane use increases between 15 percent and 20 percent as people search for indoor activities.

No drought fear

And there’s one other benefit to all this rain – North Carolina residents likely won’t experience a drought this summer.

Both Jordan Lake and Falls Lake, watersheds managed primarily for flood control and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are a few feet above their normal levels.

The lakes will provide enough surplus water for the area even if the rest of the summer experiences below average precipitation levels.

Even though July has started on a particularly wet note, temperature and precipitation projections for the month call for average values of 90 degrees and 4.7 inches of rain.

Owens: 919-829-4567

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