Once again, our rainfall saga continues. During the past 24 hours (ending at 4:00 PM on December 15), we received a total of 2.12 inches of rainfall here at Peeper Pond Farm. That just happens to be the 30-year average for the month in Upper Tract, about five miles south of our farm. So far this December (at the middle of the month) we have recorded 2.46 inches of rain with more forecasted to fall tomorrow and yet again before Christmas day. Nevertheless, December has become the ninth consecutive month of rainfall in excess of the 30-year average in 2018. Today actually marks the first day on which more than one inch of rain has fallen at our farm since September 27. We thought we were beginning to get lucky in that regard, even though the monthly total rainfall in both October and November still exceeded the 30-year averages. As of today, our cumulative total rainfall since April 1 has been 60.19 inches—which is 24.86 inches above the 30-year average for an entire year, and I don’t even have rainfall records for the first three months!
According to the meteorological staff at WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg (which has also recorded about 60 inches of rain thus far in 2018), this year is running shy of the rainiest year in recorded history. Apparently, Harrisonburg received more total rainfall in 1996 and in 1886, when the all-time annual record of just over 68 inches of rain fell. Irrespective of whether we set a new rainfall record this year or not, this soggy, humid year will be long-remembered in our area. We witnessed a number of floods, mudslides, and road washouts throughout our region. Local farmers struggled to grow healthy vegetables and to harvest their hay crops. Rotting, moldy hay bales can be seen abandoned in two small creek-side fields just down the highway from our farm. We lost all of our pumpkins and a significant amount of our butternut squash and cucumber crops to white mold and rot because we could not harvest them early enough with all the frequent rains. Mowing our yards was a constant struggle to find dry days to mow when the ground was not too soggy. We experienced frequent foggy days that became torrid during the heat of the day. Colorful fall foliage was hard to find and spotty at best. Many trees and shrubs were stressed from the persistent struggle to draw sufficient oxygen from the supersaturated soil, thereby causing them to lose their leaves early. All in all, 2018 will be remembered as a dreary, soggy year.
There’s just not much more I can say about it. I have seen no convincing evidence that the weather is something we can effectively control or regulate. Remember all the unfulfilled promises of cloud-seeding back in the 1970’s? Of course, that history is centuries removed from the minds of the average citizen in the twenty-first century. We’ll just wish each of you a Merry Christmas and a drier New Year in 2019. I just wish I could wrap it up in pretty paper and place it under the tree.