A Kingsport police officer stops a motorist from driving through deep water in this file photo taken on July 17. Photo by Ned Jilton II.
It seems like rain has been the topic of conversation in thousands of living rooms across the region, and it should be.
For the period Jan. 1 through Aug. 15, this year has been the second wettest year ever, according to the National Weather Service.
“The highest ever rainfall (for that period) was 2003 with 46 inches exactly of rain,” said Meteorologist Derek Eisentrout. “2013 comes in second place with 44.42 inches. The third wettest was in 1950 with 40.47 inches of rain.”
That is a lot of rain, but a lot of it has been spread out over the summer. From the beginning of May to Aug. 15, 107 days have passed. Out of those 107 days, there have been 60 days with recorded precipitation. That means there were only 47 days to enjoy the typical summer activities, such as going to the lake, cooking out or even children playing outside.
July was the worst month for rain. Out of 31 days in July, it rained for 21 of them. It rained so much in July that flash flooding occurred in Kingsport.
August is starting out much the same way. Out of the first 15 days the NWS had recorded in August, it rained for seven of those days.
All of this rain has wreaked havoc not only on families but also on some businesses and farmers.
“It has been a tough year for farmers who grow tomatoes, pepper, squash and other fruits and vegetables,” said Chris Ramsey, University of Tennessee agricultural extension agent. “For any farmer working the ground, there have been times where you couldn’t get on the ground because it is too wet.”
Ramsey went on to explain that soil hasn’t really had a chance to dry out and roots have to breathe. He said continuous rainfall can be devastating to crops.
Even as wet as it is, it is still not as devastating to farmers as a critically dry year. But at the same time, there have been some inconveniences, such as not being able to get things done.
Some farmers have also been worrying about flooding on their land, especially if they have creeks or ponds for livestock.
On the plus side, all the rain has given farmers plenty of forage and water for livestock. It has also restored good water table levels, Ramsey said.
For area businesses, there have been mixed results from the rain.
“I have never seen it rain this much,” said Bill Vanderpool, owner of Vanderpool Roofing and Construction. “We keep logs and I went back and checked through the logs. This is unreal, unbelievable. I’m down several thousand dollars.”
The company mostly deals with roof repairs, and Vanderpool said the rain has created extra work for him, but it’s hard to complete the extra work because it keeps raining them out.
He said the rain has cost him 30 days of work.
Spotless Restoration has seen an increase in business due to all the flooding that has occurred in the area, mostly in the Johnson City, Kingsport and Bluff City areas.
President of Spotless, Bob Pakrul, said it feels good to help down and out people.
“We really feel good about helping people,” Pakrul said. “People are usually so distraught that they are happy to see us.”
Spotless generally deals with drying things out and restoration.
For landscaping companies, all the rain has generally created a mix of results.
“The rain has made it tougher for the guys to work in,” said Karen McElhinny, Garden Center manager for Plant Boy Management and Garden Center. “But the extra rain has generated extra business for us.”
McElhinny said that plant material has pretty much maintained, although there has been a lot more fungi and mildew on them.
She said everything is growing well, but the mow crew has been having to work six days a week instead of five because they keep getting rained out.
She said they have had problems with applying top soil and some flowers have taken a hit while other plants have just drowned.
The rain has affected car dealerships as well.
“I would say it has affected our business because we haven’t had a week without rain,” said Tony Barger, general manager of Phil Bachman Honda. “We’ve even had service appointments canceled because of the rain.”
Barger said people tend to come out and car shop when it’s pretty and the rain has kept people away. He also said people don’t like to test drive a car when it’s raining.
Although both children and adults have been singing, “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day” far too often this summer, the last few days have seen nice weather.
That may be a sign clearer skies are headed our way soon, but don’t put away your umbrella yet.