On Monday, Gov. Shumlin’s office announced that May and June were the wettest two months in state history, with towns and road crews battling flooding across Chittenden County and on portions of Interstate 89. Bennington and Windham counties have been under a constant flood watch as well, as flash storms and steady rain continue to pour on an already drenched landscape.
On Tuesday, Green Mountain Power warned that the weather had already caused more power outages than Superstorm Sandy. “The nearly nonstop rain and storms make power outages even more likely, as the soggy ground makes trees come down in lighter winds than usual,” said Dorothy Schnure, GMP corporate spokesperson. “Last week, more than 49,000 GMP customers lost power during the several days that storms hammered the state, exceeding the number of customers that lost power during SuperStorm Sandy when 48,000 customers experienced outages.”
Shumlin took the opportunity to restate his position on climate change via his Facebook page. “It is far past time to accept the reality of climate change and take action to reverse its course. I look forward to working with the President to ensure that his plan is implemented.”
Southern Vermont has seen no relief from the wet trend either, with the seven-day span of June 23 to June 30 seeing precipitation every day. The National Weather Service (NWS) run by the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects weather data at 120 local weather forecast offices, including an office in Albany, NY. Rainfall and weather data for southern Vermont is collected at Bennington Airport, and according to NWS meteorologist Brian Frugis, the recent pattern is not unusual, it’s just more typical during other seasons.
“This pattern of weather is not abnormal,” said Frugis. “ This happens from time to time, but usually it’s more common in the late fall or spring.
“In a general sense, southern Vermont has been in the same familiar pattern over the past couple of weeks. A lot of times in summer, you have a week where you may get the warm and muggy days with thunderstorms but generally it stays dry. From time to time weather drags over the same area due to high and low pressure getting locked into a specific area.”
At Bennington Airport, a 7.16-inch total for rainfall was recorded for the month of May, with the 21st and 22nd providing 3.38 inches alone.
John Lazelle, chief operator of Wilmington’s wastewater treatment plant, keeps track of Wilmington’s rainfall total. Lazelle recorded 12.93 inches of rain during May and June, the highest total for those two months since 2002. Lazelle also recorded 20 days in June that Wilmington experienced precipitation.
June’s highest rain total came on the 28th with 1.61 inches of rain, while May experienced 1.49 inches on the 22nd. Between the two months, Lazelle recorded five days with rain totaling over an inch. Lazelle said that this was the wettest pattern of weather that he can recall in recent history, with the exception of Tropical Storm Irene.
Local farms have been feeling the effects of the rain on their businesses. The Wheeler Farm, a local dairy farm that relies on its fields of hay to feed its cows, was able to cut the hay fields in May, but the past month of rain has made it impossible to harvest a second crop. According to a member of the Wheeler family, the second crop of hay, also called rowen, is important due to the amount of nutrients it contains. If the rowen gets too long, it loses some of its nutritional value.
It only takes two to three days of hot, humid weather for the Wheeler fields to dry enough for harvest, but lately that’s been too much to ask of Mother Nature.
Relief may be in sight for farms like the Wheelers’ as the forecast is calling for a dry weekend. “It looks like there may be better weather toward the weekend,” said Furgis. “It’s going to warm up, and the threat is set to diminish some but not completely. It looks as though it will go back to a more typical pattern of isolated, not widespread, precipitation, and more muggy weather.”