This year among wettest on record

by Sarah Fay Campbell


This year may be one for the record books, once this weekend's rain is totaled. This year's rainfall is 15 inches above normal.

It's no secret that 2013 has been a wet year in Coweta County.

In fact, it was one of the wettest on record since rainfall tracking began in 1879.

For the Atlanta area, this year will be recorded as the eighth wettest on record, before this weekend's rainfall, with a total of 64.41 inches.

The wettest year on record for the city of Atlanta was 1948, with 71.45 inches of rain recorded. In 2009, 69.43 inches of rainfall was documented, a year of catastrophic flooding in the metro-Atlanta area.

With more rain predicted in the coming days, the metro area stands to set a new record before the year ends on Tuesday.

The average rainfall is around 49.71 inches, putting Atlanta - as of early Saturday - at 4.7 inches above average.

Total rainfall predicted for Georgia's metro areas before the dawn of the new year is between 1 and 3 inches, reports Mike Leary, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

'However, it's very hard to actually predict the amount of rain that is going to fall,' he said.

Statewide for Georgia, the numbers are somewhat different. The wettest year for the state was 1964, when the average total was 70.66 inches. Coming close was the year 1929, with 70.01 inches.

The wettest years for the city of Atlanta ranked third and sixth when using the statewide average.

Total rainfall documented at this time - recorded in the end of November, is 58.32 inches. The possibility of exceeding the 2009 total are seems likely.

Adding to the total is an additional 6.19 inches, documented as of Friday.

The heavy rainfall has wrought havoc on crops and construction projects all over the state, including Coweta.

Droughts can be tough on local farmers, but heavy rainfall, especially when accompanied by cool weather, can be even more burdensome and costly.

'They are both challenging. But at least with the drought you have irrigation,' said Scott Tyson of 180 Degree Farm in Sharpsburg. 'Even with a drought like in years past we were able to get by,' he said.

'But you can't shelter the crops from the rain. And you just pray to God that nothing washes away,' Tyson added.

This year, the wet and cool spring meant many crops were delayed.

'Our melon crop really took a hit this year,' Tyson said, 'Sweet potatoes didn't do well, either, because their growing season was cut short.'

'Still, this is the best potato crop we have ever had,' Tyson said.

Potatoes are planted in late February and cooler weather seems to aid in growth.

'[The potatoes] just happened to be in a really good, well-drained area. I've never seen potatoes grow so well in my life,' Tyson said.

The added rain also impeded local construction projects.

In 2013, Coweta County attempted an estimated $3 million of repair and construction to roads, along with several additional projects. Many assignments included spring finalization dates. The rain pushed completion of those projects into the fall.

The major task involving Newnan-Coweta County Airport was several months behind because of the rain, reports Eddie Whitlock, associate county administrator.

The work on the parking lot at the Central Park soccer fields off Ebenezer Church Road has been slowed, too.

Additionally, the county has seen 'an increased number of erosion and sedimentation control and drainage complaints,' Whitlock said. 'Usually when we have heavy rains we get a lot of complaints about drainage issues.'

Work on the city of Newnan's new public safety complex is at a standstill. Just as grading crews got the grass and topsoil off the site, 'it started raining,' said Eric Johnson, project manager with Comprehensive Program Services. 'Then it would be nice for three or four days and we'd be just about ready to begin working again, when the rains would return.'

Trying to grade a site when the soil is too wet can be disastrous.

'You take really good structural fill and break it down until the dirt won't be usable at all,' Johnson said. 'You've just got to stay off it.'

'We're right in the middle of site work. We cleared it, we got all the silt fences in … we're just trying to get the site to rough grade,' he said. 'It's kind of a touch-and-go situation. The tractors are out there and are ready to go if the site ever dries out.'

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