CAPITAL REGION — Low-lying corn, beans and turf grass were deluged with rain. Losses were inevitable.
As violent storms ripped through upstate New York in July, portions of Saratoga Sod Farm were oversaturated with precipitation. The growing season for now is getting back on track in Stillwater as cooler, drier conditions take hold.
“Everything is taking a breath from July,” said Laurie Griffen of Saratoga Sod Farm.
Farming is all about adapting to adverse and abnormal conditions, maintained Griffen, member of multi-generational Saratoga County agriculture clan.
And it wasn’t a normal summer month.
Last month broke records as the wettest July in Albany history. Approximately 10.70 inches of rain fell, shattering the former all-time July high of 9.91 inches in 2009.
July, meanwhile, was the hottest month on earth. In the Capital Region, temperatures were about 2.7 degrees above average, according to Thomas Wasula, a forecaster at the National Weather Service in Albany.
“It was warmer than normal, but it wasn’t like a top ten worthy or record breaking at all here,” said Wasula. “The bigger story was the rain.”
The average rainfall is 4.55 inches. Only two other months to date were drizzlier than last month with the last 197 years: October of 1869 (13.48 inches) and September of 1999 (11.06 inches).
“Above five inches is very respectable, and the way that the warm season goes, we could hit a stretch here when we get rain, but maybe we’ll simmer back down to normal,” Wasula said. “The summer heavily depends on where thunderstorms strike.”
Wheelerville Bike Trails temporarily shut down in Caroga as a result of storm damage. Trail manager Jeremy Manning ultimately decided against such a move on the basis that most mountain bikers were avoiding damaged routes of their own.
While the trails are now dry, the construction of two bike trails was hindered by the recent downpours. Erosion has resulted in some rocks exposed across the trail system.
There’s a silver lining, Manning maintained.
“It’s nice to see what the water does and it’s helpful to be able to plan for drainage to see what the mountain the handles,” Manning said. “Even though it takes a lot of work, it’s still really beneficial.”
National Grid spokesperson Patrick Stella said that a number of recent tree fall-induced power outages could be the result of ground oversaturation. Rain damage has also been linked to a sinkhole forming on McClellan Street and Eastern Avenue in Schenectady.
The situation is a reversal from last year when an abnormally dry late season led the state Department of Environmental Conservation to initiate a drought watch for most portions of the state from August to October. It was the fourth driest July in Albany County since 1874.
At a one-inch yearly deficit were precipitation levels in June of this year. As a result of violent storms pounding the Northeast in July, that count is now 5.5 inches above normal for the year.
Extreme weather conditions including early drought-like conditions in the spring and a late frost in upstate New York has resulted in challenging gardening conditions, noted Emily Detrick, director of horticulture at Cornell Botanical Gardens.
“We thought this entire year might be really dry and that wasn’t actually the case,” she said. “But that was a really critical time period for establishment of new plants or plants that were emerging from dormancy to all of a sudden be that dry.”
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.