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Why so soggy? Meteorologists offer takes on the wet weather

September 27, 2018

Experts say there is no spectacular cause for the unrelenting rainfall that has dampened more than just the spirits of Somerset County residents

AccuWeather meteorologist Randy Adkins said rainfall in the region has been higher than average this summer, with no major weather event as the cause.

“What we did have was a stagnant weather pattern that did set up during the summer, where we just had continued flow of moisture out of the deeper tropics and the Gulf of Mexico that was streaming northward,” he said.

In a three-month period from June to August, the total rainfall reported at the Somerset County Airport was 17.49 inches. The average for the area is 13.34 inches.

“We were a solid 4 inches above average there,” Adkins said.

Adkins added that higher-than-normal summer rainfall is typically due to the “remnant effects” of tropical storms.

“This summer, most of the rainfall was just the result of a weather pattern that was just unrelenting,” he said.

Increased rain caused severe flooding throughout the region this summer. On Sept. 10 high water closed several roads, including Matlick Road and Route 219 between Salisbury and Meyersdale.

Somerset Borough Manager Michele Enos said the borough is prone to flooding when there is an extended period of rain or during torrential downpours.

“It causes the streams in the borough to overflow (their) banks, which then affects all our infrastructure,” she said.

Floodwater has also caused issues for the borough’s wastewater treatment plant, causing sewer backup in residential lines.

The borough is already three months into a stormwater study, to be finished in 2019.

“Right now we are conducting a flow monitoring study, which measures the flow of our sewer collection system,” Enos said. “That helps us determine the areas with the greatest surcharge so we can plan for capital improvement projects to correct those situations.”

Borough construction and paving projects have been delayed by the excess rain.

“Even the contractor that is slated to do the Uptown sidewalk project has just asked for an extension because of the weather,” Enos said.

Increased rain and high winds also caused several power outages over the summer, due mostly to winds pulling down tree limbs and power lines. AccuWeather senior meteorologist John Gresiak said it only takes 30 mph gusts to pull down tree limbs and poles, which could result in a power outage.

“Especially with the ground as wet as it is, it takes a lot less force to bring down a tree,” he said. “The wet ground is not as good of a support for the trees or even power poles.”

Adkins said rainfall is likely to continue to be “above average” over the next few weeks.

“Honestly, I’m not sure I know anybody (who) is too happy with this weather,” he said.

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