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Rain brings some relief from hot, dry days

Jennifer Sprouse • Jul 10, 2012 at 9:51 PM

After a long, hot June, the wait was finally over as much needed rain began moving into the area.

While a lot of places in the Tri-Cities have been seeing the re-emergence of the rain, many have said they hope to see more.

Meteorologists Jessica Winton and Kate Guillet from the National Weather Service, said the rainfall should definitely help the intense weather conditions, as1.94 inches of rain fell on the Tri-Cities region.

Winton said some of the storms popping up in the area have brought in over an inch of rain per hour, but on Tuesday the rain, classified as a stratiform, brought a steady and constant moving precipitation.

“The front that has come down, it’s been moving south and it’s actually stalling over our area and so we’re expecting thundershowers and thunderstorms every day,” she said.

Guillet said the rainfall in the region has remained pretty on target. Rainfall for the year normally is around 22.76 inches and so far the area has seen 21.51. For the month, it’s normally around 5.37 inches and currently the region sits at 4.72 inches.

Sullivan County was reported as having a lot of rainfall Tuesday, but Guillet explained that rainfall for individual cities is measured from 7 a.m. to 7 a.m. each day, and the daily rainfall amount had not yet been calculated. From Monday at 7 a.m. to Tuesday at 7 a.m., though, Sullivan County had seen 1.49 inches of rainfall.

“I mean, this definitely helps, but the only thing is we’ve been having...flash flood warnings,” Winton said. “If we get a lot of rain at one time or...if it’s a heavy amount at one time, or if it’s a moderate amount over a long time, a lot of time the streams, creeks and everything, they...can’t move that water fast enough so it builds back up.”

Anthony Shelton, an agriculture extension agent with the University of Tennessee Extension in Washington County, said he definitely welcomes the rain the region has seen lately.

Shelton said the high temperatures from the last few weeks and the lack of rain really put a strain on local agriculture and farmers.

“A lot of plants, a lot of crops, were showing stress and that’s caused by the dryness and heat,” Shelton said. “Roots were not taking up...the necessary nutrients that they were needing. They were turning yellow and showing some deficiency signs of certain nutrients.”

He said before the rain plants would get burnt tips and the roots would shrivel up so as not to take in any moisture and nutrients needed to live. The pasture situation, he said, has also been rough with grass not growing because of the hot weather conditions.

“Cool season grasses is what we thrive on in this area and when it gets really hot in the summer those grasses go dormant and they don’t grow, so you know the pasture situation is kind of tough in a lot of areas,” he said. “If we can get a rain or two every week and it cools down a little bit, it will help growing conditions immensely.”

Shelton said before the rain made its appearance this week, he was skeptical of how planted crops would do, going as far as to say they were not expecting a good crop year.

“The rains have helped conditions from going pretty poor to ... average,” he said. “If we keep getting rainfall and everything it could be a decent crop year. We’re still in kind of a wait and see era.”

Shelia Mathes, greenhouse manager at Evergreen of Johnson City, said despite the hot weather, the store has been consistent with customers.

“It’s kind of more toward the end of the spring/summer season,” she said. “It’s not really hurt the business that we had. We still have fair customer flow. People are still coming in.”

She said that they did amp up watering of plants during the extremely hot and dry days, especially on plants outside that would have normally been watered by the rain.

“We had to water a lot more than we normally would,” Mathes said. “We have irrigation set up on certain kinds of plants here, but then other we just have to hand water with the watering wand. That’s something we’ve had to be on top of everyday.”

Mathes said she believes she’ll see a few more customers coming in to buy plants, maybe because their own didn’t make it in the heat.

“I think with the rain they’re probably getting an idea that they could start over with some things at this point,” she said. “There’s still some good growing months left.”

Even with the onset of rainy weather, Mathes said at Evergreen they always encourage their customers to deep water their plants until the roots have been re-established to allow for nutrients to get to the plant.

Winton said people in the Tri-Cities can expect chances of rain to continue throughout the week and weekend.

“It’s going to stick around for awhile,” she said. “This weekend we’re expecting it to probably get...more isolated, less coverage, less severe, as this front starts to move out.”

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