By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer
The summer of 2013 could see the heaviest amount of rainfall of any summer in the past six years, if heavy amounts of precipitation continue.
According to the Kentucky Mesonet, a weather-tracking system developed by Western Kentucky University, the county has recorded more than 20 inches of rain from June to early September. That number is only matched by the summer of 2009, which had just under 22 inches.
While the difference may seem significant, July and August of this year had precipitation rates significantly above average, at 7.31 inches and 8.59 inches respectively, and the 2-inch gap could quickly be filled if the trend continues.
The heavy rainfall of 2013 and 2009 both followed years with below-average precipitation. Last summer, the county received only 12.7 inches of rain, and in 2008 rainfall topped out at slightly more than 10 inches in the four months.
The consistent rain has had both positive and negative affects on local agriculture.
According to Brandon Sears, Madison County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, it has meant larger than usual hay and corn crops, although the quality of the hay was diminished because of excess moisture.
At the same time, dry weather crops like tobacco suffered. Tobacco relies on a strong root system to feed it, and in dry weather the roots dig deeper into the soil, improving the quality. With increased precipitation, the roots of many tobacco plants in the county didn’t need to dig and expand. As a consequence, the plants withered during hot dry spells without rain, which sometimes lasted days.
The wet summer also had a detrimental impact on recreation in the county. According to Richmond's Parks and Recreation Director Erin Moore, the public pool at Paradise Cove saw a large drop in attendance before it closed at the end of August. Whenever heavy rains or storms began, the pool would need to close. While business records for this summer at the pool are not yet available, Moore said at the last parks and recreation board meeting she expected revenue to be down from last year.
Seth Littrell can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6623.