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Local weather has been cool, rainy for weeks

By Tom Jackson • Jun 25, 2019 at 6:30 PM

Summer arrived every so slowly this year. 

According to the calendar, the season began Friday. In Ohio, however, summer-like weather sometimes arrives in May, with periods of hot days.

But not this year.

The Cleveland office of the National Weather Service confirms that the weather has been unusually cool and rainy in recent weeks. And a staff meteorologist at the office says that pattern is likely to persist for awhile.

Asked about the cool weather, meteorologist Patrick Saunders commented, “I think the biggest story really is that it’s been really wet. It really goes hand in hand with being really cool.”

Along with the rain comes more cloud cover blocking the sun, Saunders said.

“We’re just kind of in this pattern where we have system after system moving through our area,” he said.

It’s been a wet last few weeks, Saunders said.

“I don’t think we’ve quite reached historic levels, but we’re up there. It’s very above average for rain,” he said.

“It’s not looking very likely we’re going to break this pattern,” Saunders said. “Every single outlook has our area in above average precipitation,” he said.

Much of the rest of the U.S. also has been wet.

Scientists who track climate, and the possible effects of climate change, report heavy rainfall and flooding in much of the U.S.

“The May precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 4.41 inches, 1.50 inches above average, and ranked second wettest in the 125-year period of record for May as well as second wettest for all months since January 1895,” said a report from the National Centers for Environmental Information, “Assessing the U.S. Climate in May 2019.”

There were also plenty of tornadoes in the U.S. in May.

“Over 500 tornado reports occurred during May – more than double the 3-year average of 226. It was the most active 30-day tornado period since 2011,” the same report stated.

As climate change advances, scientists are reporting more extreme weather events.

Globally, temperatures in May 2019 were “the fourth highest for May in the 1880–2019 record. The last five years (2015–2019) are the five warmest Mays on record, with May 2016 the warmest with a global land and ocean temperature at 1.67°F above average,” said a report from the same agency on global climate.

Cold, rainy weather arguably is bad news for tourist attractions such as Cedar Point, where sunny days that bring out large crowds are strongly preferred.

“I think all of us in Northern Ohio wish the sun would stay out more often than it has, but we can’t control the weather!,” said Tony Clark, a spokesman for Cedar Point.

Larry Fletcher, executive director of Lake Erie Shores and Islands, said the rain has held down the number of people coming to Erie and Ottawa counties.

“People have a choice on when they come to visit,” he said. “They’ll be looking for times when there’s nicer weather.”

That reduces sales at tourism related businesses such as gas stations, restaurants and stores that sell souvenirs, he said.

“We are hopeful that things will turn around,” he said.

People can still come here and have fun, Fletcher said.

He said the welcome centers for Lake Erie Shores and Islands have brochures on the many rainy day activities available in the area.

With Lake Erie at record high elevations, local officials have been battling flooding and erosion along the Lake Erie shore, and continued heavy rain seemed likely to continue those pressures.

The heavy rains also suggest that Lake Erie will have a harmful algal bloom this year that is larger than last year’s bloom.

The official forecast for the 2019 algal bloom will not be issued until July 11, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which issues emailed algal bloom forecasts, said in a June 11 email bulletin that this year’s bloom will have a severity much greater than the 2018 bloom.

“The maximum severity includes the possibility of additionally heavy rain over the next several weeks,” the bulletin said.

With the persistent possibility of flooding, forecasters are reminding motorists not to drive into flooded roads.

The National Weather Service office in Cleveland Tweeted Thursday, “Did you know? It only takes about 12“ to 18” of water to make a car float. If the water is moving, it can sweep you and your car into deeper water very quickly. If you see flooding or water over the road, Turn Around Don't Drown!”

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