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All wet: Too much rain puts damper on traditional summer activities

All wet: Too much rain puts damper on traditional summer activities


BLOOMINGTON — The more than 12 inches of rain that has fallen in the Twin Cities the past two months has put a damper on traditional summertime activities and the trend could continue into the summer that officially arrives on Sunday.

In its three-month outlook released Thursday, the Climate Prediction Center is showing above-average precipitation and below-average temperatures in July, August and September. 

"When it's wet in the summer, there's not a lot of scorching hot days and it's cloudy so that holds down the temperatures," said Jim Angel, climatologist at the Illinois Water Survey in Urbana.

But, he said, even if the temperatures are cooler, the humidity level likely will be very high with all the moisture.

In other words, a repeat of what Central Illinois already has seen this spring that is wreaking havoc with golf courses, swimming pools and gardens.

"We've been fortunate that we haven't had to close (any of the golf courses) yet," said Jason Wingate, Bloomington's superintendent of golf. "Some courses north have had to close" because of flooding. "We've certainly seen that golfers have had to alter their schedule; have had to be flexible. 

"Every day there's something coming at us. We're seeing a lot of people checking their phones to see the weather." 

The rain has forced Bloomington and Normal golf courses to restrict golf carts to cart paths only, something that isn't real popular, noted Craig Onsrud, Normal's golf course manager.

"It's affected business," he said. 

While the rain hasn't stopped any scheduled outings, Onsrud said the senior league that meets on Monday mornings has been hit by the weather three times.

Twin City swimming pools closed a couple of days at the start of the season because of cool temperatures and wet conditions and Normal has closed its pools early a few nights.

"It's been temperatures more than rain," said Angela Malone, Normal's aquatics and special events supervisor. "Even though our pools are heated, when it's 50 degrees outside it's not safe."

The humidity also has affected attendance, which Malone said is down so far this year.

Adam Hucek, Bloomington's aquatics/sports program manager, said numbers also are down at pools there, "but we're still doing OK. We're working around the weather."

The pools are cleared when there's thunder or lightning, but once it passes, patrons can go back in. Hucek said a lot of pool patrons will just wait out the common afternoon downpours and resume swimming when they pass.

The large amount of rain also has left pools of water in areas usually used for a variety of other outdoor recreation activities.

Normal Parks and Recreation Director Chris Cotten said there is standing water beside most of Constitution Trail and the town's detention basins, commonly used by groups, are extremely wet. The town's summer camp programs also have had to move some outdoor activities inside because of wet conditions, he said. 

The rain is affecting gardening, too.

"It's harsh on flowers," said Kelly Rawlings, an educator at Wendall Niepagen Greenhouses in Bloomington. "When water actually gets on the petals, it reduces the life of the flower by 50 percent."

While flowers like supertunias and wave petunias rebloom quickly, "they can't keep up," she said.

Warmer weather vegetables also are struggling, she said. "Pepper seeds won't germinate unless it's over 70 degrees," she said. "They do best when it's really hot and dry."

But she added, as sad as they might look now, they likely will rebound when the sun comes out.

Because of the weather conditions, Rawlings said gardeners should prune their tomato plants to be sure none of the leaves are touching or near the ground. Most pests are in the soil, she said, and the rain splashes them up onto the plant.

The wet weather is prompting a lot of fungus, too, she said. On the brighter side, now is a perfect time to plant perennials because they can get well established with the help of all the rain.

Dale Naffziger, owner of Growing Grounds in Bloomington, cautioned gardeners to pay attention to their plants and trees. While some may be getting too much rain — too much water will kill new trees — others may be in locations sheltered from the rain so they still need to be watered.

"Give them consistency," he said. 

Follow Mary Ann Ford on Twitter: @pg_ford


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BLOOMINGTON — If you thought it rained a lot in June, you were right. The 8.74 inches of rain that fell at the Bloomington waterworks weather station broke a 67-year-old record for the month.

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