Harford gets 8 to 10 inches of rain in June

It comes as no surprise to those who live, work and try to play ball in Harford County that June was a very wet and stormy month. It was historically wet with the most rainfall for June since the legendary storm Agnes passed through in 1972.

And the area isn't through with the rain yet.

Farmers and gardeners have been working to keep their crops safe from too much moisture, while drivers have faced threats of flash flooding and the ground has stayed saturated into July.

On average, Harford got more rain than many other places in the Baltimore region, with 8.5 inches in June.

That is 60 percent higher than normal, National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Witt, from the Sterling, Va., office, said.

It is also more than the 7.18 inches averaged at Baltimore-Washington International Airport in June.

The 7-plus inches at BWI was the highest rainfall for the month since 1972, according to The Baltimore Sun.

In some places, like along the Susquehanna River, the number may be even higher.

John Balay, planning and operations manager for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, said Harford's piece of the river got 10 inches between June 2 and July 1 – about 75 percent higher than average.

"This rainfall event has been pretty unique. It's been a steady stream of tropical moisture coming from the south," Balay said.

Despite the inches upon inches of rain, neither the county nor the Susquehanna River has not been especially flooded because conditions were so dry when June came in.

Balay said the Susquehanna is forecast to rise to 42 feet, which is not anywhere near close to flooding.

The current stream flow at Conowingo Dam is about 78,000 to 80,000 cubic feet per second, Balay said, less than the average of 86,000.

"We are definitely having significant rises in river levels. Fortunately for us, it was dry prior to this event so in the lower Susquehanna River proper," he said. "We had dried out a good bit in the month of June, not, like, drought-dry."

Witt said it should be the end of very heavy rains, for now, but some more precipitation is still likely through mid-July.

"We are going to get a little break this weekend," he noted.

Those who work with the land said the rain has been good in some ways and frustrating in others.

It is still early in the summer, so not too much produce has come in. Corn, however, seems to have been flourishing in Harford.

"The corn crop is wonderful. We are ecstatic about the corn," Paula Harman, of Harman's Farm in Churchville, said Wednesday about her crop.

Other plants and products have not done as well.

"We do some straw, and it's been very difficult to find a window of opportunity for that type of thing," Harman said. "With other vegetables, when you have this rain and this much dampness and the heat, it does lend itself to diseases."

Harman said she has to take more preventive measures to protect the crops.

"Tomatoes aren't happy with this much rain. They do like to dry down a little bit and they have not had an opportunity to do that."

"It's not just the quantity of rain, it's just that it's always wet. It's heavy dews in the morning constantly," she continued.

Darin Van Houten, of Van Houten Gardens, said it has also been tougher to get customers to come out. His business, on Route 22 across from Harford Community College, has plants, flowers and gardening supplies, as well as some produce.

Tuesday morning, it all stayed wet as rain fell on and off until close to noon.

"It's definitely been more rain than we would like," Van Houten said. "It makes it harder to take care of the plants."

He said the extra moisture contributes to root rot in the plants, which forces him to check every single pot before it's set out. He also tries to set more things in the greenhouse.

"We try to be as vigilant as we can," Van Houten said. "It makes watering more time-consuming."

Van Houten's 200-acre farm in central Pennsylvania has been much drier, which has helped keep produce from the ill effects of the rainfall in Maryland.

He said he has minimized the business' losses by making sure plants get spaced appropriately, for one thing.

"When they're wet all the time, they can't be touching all the time," he said.

Although Van Houten also said it was too early for produce to really be affected, he expects more insects in the coming months because of the wetness.

"It's going to be a lot of bugs this summer. Japanese beetles have come out in force," he said.

Other gardeners thought the rain has been just right.

Stan Kollar, of Kollar Nursery in Pylesville, said the water has been a welcome relief from the dryness of previous seasons.

"It's usually really hot and dry," he said, noting the rain "has helped things grow very nicely."

Kollar did think the moisture has created some problems in terms of more fungus and he said the "intense storms have wreaked havoc" on slopes in Harford County in general.

Fungus and mildew have not, however, affected his nursery much.

Kollar thought the corn he saw around the area is taller than ever.

"I think most farmers are probably delighted with the rain," he said. "It's not been inordinate."

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