Sunday, May 20, 2001

Rain eases drought fears; more on way

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A solid, soaking rain over southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky Friday and Saturday helped calm fears of a full-scale drought this summer.

        But many local residents are still looking skyward and hoping for more.

        “If I could make it happen, I'd have it rain like that every other day for the next couple of weeks, a quarter- or half-inch at a time,” said Joe Boggs, Hamilton County's horticulture extension agent.

        According to the National Weather Service, 1.24 inches of rain fell in the immediate Cincinnati area from Friday afternoon through midday Saturday, while similar amounts fell elsewhere in the Tristate.

        The soaking was far greater in central and south-central Ohio over that period, with 3 inches of rain in Ross County and nearly 7 inches pouring down in Scioto County along the Ohio River.

        The rain prompted flash flood watches from the NWS for many Ohio counties, but the watches were dropped Saturday.

        The good news was that the rain Friday and Saturday made a significant dent in the rain shortfall that southern Ohio and northern Kentucky have been experiencing this spring — a shortfall that many fear could lead to a drought disaster this summer.

        In an average year, Cincinnati would have had nearly 16 inches of rain by this time. Even with the recent soaking, Greater Cincinnati remains 6.39 inches below average.

        However, NWS meteorologist Mike Ryan said the area is making progress; a week ago Cincinnati was more than 8 inches behind the normal rainfall total for the year.

        Mr. Ryan said the forecast for southwest Ohio this week calls for scattered showers and thunderstorms beginning Monday and continuing through most of the week.

        Mr. Boggs — an expert in trees, shrubs and turf — said he had been getting “very concerned” about the lack of rainfall.

        “It's particularly hard on trees in urban areas, because their root systems are often limited by sidewalks and streets,” Mr. Boggs said. “It takes a very deep, deep soaking to get to them. And the more we get, the better.”


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