Always something [Editorial]

The month ended last Tuesday as the wettest July ever recorded in our region.

That follows an unusually wet spring that hurt farmers, delaying the spring plantings. Then the late plantings were drenched by more than 15 inches of rain, much of which came in one weekend, in July.

It hasn’t been much better for the hobbyist gardeners, either.

Those who make their living, or gain some of their leisure fulfillment, off the land well know the ups and downs of growing seasons in Harford County and the surrounding region.

The challenges are many. It can be too wet, or too dry. It can be too hot, or too cool. Any of those conditions combined with another complicates matters for farmers and gardeners.

It starts, obviously, with winter’s end. If the coldest, darkest season lingers, keeping the soil chilly and damp, the farmers get behind before they get started.

That happened this spring, which wasn’t good for planting.

If winter moves on early, or at least on time, and farmers get a good start, that’s all it is – a good start. A promising start can go bad; if there’s not enough rain at the right times, the crops also are threatened.

When it’s been too dry and a storm rolls through dropping an inch or two of much-needed rain, what on the surface seems like a blessing might not be. If the rain comes too hard, too fast it’s more likely to run off quickly without much benefit than it is to quench parched crops.

We recount, albeit in a simplistic way, what farmers face because this growing season has thrown many of those obstacles at those who rely on crops, or on their livestock that’s equally reliant on crops, to make a living.

With that said, that July 22 weekend of heavy rain – 11 or so of inches in any few-day period in Harford County – qualifies as very heavy rain, and caused other issues. Those issues came mostly from the rain moving north.

Upriver, the Susquehanna was the drainage basin for the deluge, which then followed toward Conowingo and the last dam between the muddy waters and the Chesapeake Bay. More gates were open than usual, but not as many as have often been opened. There was some flooding, primarily in Port Deposit and the Yacht Basin in Havre de Grace, but not as much flooding as has frequently occurred.

The water was muddy, very muddy, which is never good. And the fast-flowing water flushed a lot of debris down the Bay, clogging marinas and closing beaches many miles south of the mouth of the Susquehanna. And that is certainly never good.

The muddy water, the strong flow and the mass of debris forced the cancellation, out of a sense of safety for participants, of an elite national bass fishing tournament scheduled for the Upper Bay last week.

We point out these things not only because they’re out of the summer norm, but also because then along comes a summer norm that does its fair share of damage, too. Thunderstorms in July and August are as much a part of Maryland living as tornadoes are of life in Oklahoma and other Sputhwestern and Midwestern states. Wednesday night’s storm roared through the county causing sporadic damage, including wiping out the clubhouse at the Winters Run Golf Course.

When it comes to weather in our area, it just goes to show that not only is it always something, but also it always gives us something to talk about.

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