Friday, May 1, 2009

April Showers bring…?

We’re poised to have a great deal of flowers if there’s substance to the old adage, ‘April showers bring May flowers’! So far though, April showers have brought little more than a saturated course with standing water in places we’ve seldom seen. This has caused headaches and difficulty with work and travel throughout, while creating unattractive tracking.

Despite our efforts to spread traffic patterns, tracking is simply unavoidable at this point.

We are limiting our movement as much as possible, walking with equipment where practical, and foregoing some time-insensitive tasks, but certain jobs are critical and course travel is necessary. Hopefully, we’ll get some sunshine, lower humidity, and gentle drying breezes before long ...and a generous period of time with NO RAIN!

We’ve had plenty of rainfall for sure and there have been other climatic conditions that have contributed to this saturation that we’re now experiencing. Our weather station has been working overtime measuring rainfall on 10 of the last 12 days of April. As you can see in the graph below the amount of rain during this period was 3.16 inches. For the month we’ve had a total of 3.85 inches. Average for the month of April is 3.68 inches which is not significantly less than what we have received but we have to look at a couple other climatic factors to understand why it is so wet. Rainfall year to date compared to average, and Relative Humidity and Evapotranspiration for these last 12 days of the month.

According to local weather reports (our new weather station was not active for the entire period), we’ve had nearly 15 inches of precipitation to date, making this the 2nd wettest recorded. The normal average amount for this same period is 9.71 inches.

Relative Humidity during these last two weeks of April has averaged very high at 80% as shown below. Therefore, with near record rainfall and moisture laden air, it’s no wonder this water is just sitting on our slow to drain, nearly saturated, silty clay soils.

Another factor we monitor regularly, especially during irrigation periods, is Evapotranspiration, or "ET". This is the combination of water that is lost from the soil through evaporation and through transpiration (plants way of perspiring) from plants as a part of their growth process. In simple terms, it’s the amount of water used by a particular plant, in our case, well-maintained turfgrass.

Throughout this same 12 day, end of April period, the amount of water needed for plant growth processes totaled .94 inches. If we subtract this amount from the amount of rain we’ve had, it gives us a relative quantity of “excess” moisture. That amount is nearly 2.25 inches. That’s a lot of extra water in 12 days with high humidity, and lots of clouds. In fact, according to Tom Skilling, it’s been the cloudiest April in 14 years!

Hope this weather pattern changes soon or else well see a lot of moss and algae instead of those May flowers!

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