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Weathering the rain

Precipitation on pace to eclipse state mark

POSTED: July 14, 2013 12:30 a.m.
Hilary Butschek/

Kevin Dixon and his 2-year-old son took advantage of a break from the rain Friday afternoon to visit Central Park.

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Even adults have had trouble finding time to play in what has been an uncommonly wet summer.

“Golf is no fun in the rain,” said Stuart Cobb, assistant general manager at Canongate Golf Clubs.

Although the Olde Atlanta Golf Course hasn’t seen a dramatic drop-off in rounds, Cobb said he has “definitely noticed a difference” during what for many residents has been one of the soggiest stretches they can recall.

The weather has also caused issues for lawn maintenance businesses. “It’s put a damper on our scheduling,” said Shaun Bowker, president of the Synergy Landscape Group.

Much of the company’s work can’t be done when it rains. And the small time windows when it stops make it challenging to fit everyone in, he said.

It’s only halfway through the year, but 2013 is the second wettest year on record for Forsyth County, according to the National Weather Service.

Totals gathered at a water treatment plant in Cumming show that, as of mid-July, 46.29 inches of rain have fallen. That’s a close second to 1964, the wettest year on record, which had 51.01 inches at the same point.

Cumming has kept precipitation records since the 1940s, but at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where records date to the 1800s, the wettest year on record is 1929, to which 2013 also ranks second.

All the rain has also refilled Lake Lanier — and then some.

As recently as last week, the lake topped 1,073 feet above sea level. That’s 2 feet higher than full pool.

As a results, some walking trail and picnic tables at West Bank Park in Forsyth County were submerged, and many other parks have little to no beach.

Kent Frantz, the service hydrologist for the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City, said the sudden increase in this year’s precipitation is the norm of a pattern looking back at the records spanning more than a century.

“You do tend to have decades that are wetter or dryer,” Frantz said.

Citing stretches of drought in the early years of the 2000s, it’s normal to see decade-long periods of heavy rain followed by little at all.

“Definitely we go in cycles,” he said. “It’s a law of physics that when you have one extreme the atmosphere will want to equalize it.

“Mother Nature is trying to make up for that deficit by excessive rain.”

The total amount of rainfall for all of 2012 was 51.33 inches, about 5 inches more than Cumming has received so far this year.

“We are on track to break the record,” Frantz said.

Back at Olde Atlanta Golf Course, golfers have had difficulty setting any records of their own. Many have had to stop in the middle of a round or cancel tee times because of the seemingly incessant rain.

The golf course has also suffered, according to Cobb, with the plentiful precipitation accelerating grass — and weed — growth.

Bowker and his Synergy Landscape Group are running about a week behind schedule for regular maintenance visits and projects. He said that backup contributes to the completion of projects with longer time frames.

“Something we should be finished with in October could be pushed back now until Thanksgiving,” Bowker said.

But Brian Longaker, owner of Sunnybrook Landscapes, said he is taking advantage of the weather by installing new items to help homeowners control the effects of steady rain, including retaining walls, downspout extensions and erosion maintenance.

“We fall behind, but we catch back up,” Longaker said.

Forsyth County resident Kevin Dixon and his 2-year-old son have fallen behind on their outside play time.

“He’s been pretty rambunctious over the last week,” said Dixon, noting that it’s been challenging to keep the child busy. “All he’s talked about is going to the park.”

Father and son did just that during a few hours of sun Friday, the lone break in the weather they had seen all week.

Fittingly perhaps, the afternoon sky darkened. As they wrapped up their visit to Central Park, raindrops began to fall.

 

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