Region's wet weather muddies outdoor fun Downpour: Increased precipitation has dampened the activities of area residents, and the pattern is expected to continue.


Are you sick of this rainy May weather yet?

For the third consecutive weekend, it rained in Baltimore and surrounding areas, and the National Weather Service predicts more today, tomorrow and Tuesday. While yesterday saw only light showers and drizzle with periods of sunshine, some people say: "Enough already!"

"If I liked this much rain, I would be living in England," groaned Vern Laurie, an administrator with the Environmental Protection Agency who lives just outside of Annapolis. "It kind of puts a damper on your weekend -- pardon the pun."

So far this year, 22.71 inches of rain has fallen on Baltimore -- a significant increase from the normal total rainfall of 13.55 inches. Forecasters predict continued cloudiness with a 60 percent chance of light rain and drizzle today and tomorrow, with temperatures in the mid-60s. Tuesday and Wednesday could be partly cloudy with a chance of showers and highs in the mid- to low 70s.

Rain has been forecast -- and fallen -- the last 10 days. The last rain-free day was April 29.

It let up yesterday as the sun played peek-a-boo. Crowds turned out to watch the Preakness Parade wind through downtown Baltimore. The rain stopped long enough to let the Charles Village Recreational League -- but not all in the region -- play a bit of muddy baseball.

The rain slowed enough for the HARBEL Community Organization to hold its flea market in Northeast Baltimore, with the die-hard vendors whipping out pieces of canvas to keep their goods dry. And at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, the 70th annual May Mart went on as scheduled with crowds milling about, though a few booths were moved indoors after morning showers.

"We are having a better turnout than I had expected," said May Mart coordinator Sheila Peyrot as she stood under an overcast sky. "Cotton candy is pretty sticky in the rain, but it hasn't seemed to dampen the kids' spirits at all."

Volunteers sold flowers and lemon sticks; painted faces; and manned booths with games. Mary Jo Kirschman kept a positive outlook as she plopped hamburgers and pieces of chicken from a smoking grill onto buns.

"It's not raining," Kirschman said, laughing. "Rain is a state of mind."

Soaked playing fields

For some maybe. Wet fields left the coach of Baltimore's Northwood Braves, Brian Cuthrell, to transport his 12- to 14-year-old players to Timonium to work out at batting cages. The team's season started a few weeks ago, but the Braves have managed to play only one game.

"The kids understand that when the weather is wet, we can't play," Cuthrell said. "So it's off to the batting cage once again."

Chris Jones, 12, a shortstop and pitcher for the Braves, likes the batting cages, he said, but would like the weather to clear up so he could do "more things outside."

His mother agreed.

"He's bored," sighed Eugenia Brown, Chris' mother. "He does nothing but toss balls up in the air."

Mike Swartz, president-elect for the Columbia Youth Baseball Association, said he has tried to do everything he can to make sure his teams play, including driving around to scout the driest fields.

Blues in the rain

At Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County, blues fans refused to let the threat of bad weather keep them from enjoying the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival. Concert organizers said they had already sold 6,500 tickets for yesterday's concert, and dozens more were buying at the door.

Although thick clouds loomed overhead and strong winds seemed to suggest that rain would burst through at any moment, few were daunted by nature's threats.

"If a hurricane came through here I'll still be here," said Tom Figgs, who traveled from Williamsburg, Va., to see the concert with his father, George, of Baltimore.

Maren Nolting of Pasadena brought her parents, Betty and Bob Tierney, who were visiting from Canada to the show. The trio seemed almost excited at the prospect of a downpour.

"The blues is always better in the rain," Nolting said.

And Vern Laurie, the environmentalist, said he wouldn't mind being grounded if it meant he could till his herb garden and plant his tomato and pepper plants.

Laurie, 61, said his ground has been too wet and he and his wife Helen, 62, have spent much of their time indoors.

"We have worn out both ends of the couch," Laurie said.

Pub Date: 5/10/98

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