August 23, 2014

Rain makes for a softer summer

Heavy rainfall and more clouds took the heat out of this summer and made for a pleasant change.

Rain cooled this North Carolina summer, giving it a lushness almost foreign. For summer is usually our Maine winter, the extreme season when people are often uncomfortable out of doors. It’s too hot for golf, tennis or running, though some try anyway.

But this summer, the clouds gathered often. Many days we awoke to puddles. Showers washed away the late afternoon heat. And the season became something different from the fiery humid months that could make it fearsome to work in a field or on a roof.

Instead of drought, there were deluges. On July 16, 4.2 inches of rain fell at Raleigh-Durham International Airport – 2 inches between 5 and 6 p.m. – swamping the date’s previous record of 2.8 inches in 1954. Rainfall since June 1 stood at 19.06 inches last Friday, more than 8 inches above normal. Last summer was wet, too, but this one more so.

Phil Badgett of the National Weather Service in Raleigh reports that since June 1 we’ve had only 30 days at 90 degrees or above, less than half the typical number. “This has just been extreme,” he says.

It took awhile to realize that this summer would be its own, that it would have a certain strangeness and appeal, that it would not divide spring and fall, but be a mix of both. Now it is nearing its end, less than a month to go by the calendar and a day from over in the way schoolchildren measure the season.

Perhaps this week we should step out and say hello to this stranger of a summer before it goes. Say thank you for our green lawns, full reservoirs, lower air conditioning and water bills and our transport to a cooler climate without leaving home.

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