Weird weather washes across Virginia
The childhood song “Rain, Rain, go away, come again another day,” may well be come the Song of 2020 across Virginia where Mother Nature keeps trying to break rainfall records.
The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has not declared any records for the area it serves despite copious rainfall in May.
“We’ve still got four days to go,” Peter Corrigan, senior service hydrologist there, said in a telephone interview on May 28.
Corrigan said heavy rains in Roanoke have brought the Roanoke River out of its banks, blocking at least one entrance to a major regional medical facility.
At that time, he said, Roanoke had recorded 11.12 inches.
Flood warnings from the agency were still in place in the New River Valley and more rain was predicted.
The state’s farmers as well as the weather service were anxiously watching the changing conditions and juggling their efforts to deal with wet cool weather that is keeping them from planting and harvesting.
Corrigan traced the waves of water laden clouds that blew across Virginia in May.
The first, a four-day event May 19-22, brought between 5 and 10 inches of rain across his service area, he said. That caused flooding of the New River at Radford where cattle producer Bud Jefferies reported the crest at 21.7 feet.
Jefferies farms his family’s Ingles Farm in the river bottom in the City of Radford.
Corrigan said three weeks of dry weather following heavy April rains kept the effects of this event from being worse.
The second round of heavy rain was an intense event below the Blue Ridge Range in Henry and Franklin counties that caused flash flooding.
The third heavy rain resulted from the remnants of Bertha, a tropical storm. It had been predicted to douse the Roanoke Valley again but passed through the New River Valley to the southwest in counties sandwiched between North Carolina and West Virginia.
Cool to just plain cold weather earlier in the month has been another player for farmers in the area.
Steve Pottorff, Extension agent in Carroll County, said both vegetable growers and cattle producers have been affected by the cool season.
It has been too wet for some growers to plant and cool soil has slowed the growth of planted seeds and plants.
Pottorff added the cool weather has slowed pasture growth and grass has not been able to keep ahead of the cattle grazing, and that combined with producers holding animals longer due to lower cattle prices, has led to some overgrazing.
In many counties, hay is growing and heading but cannot be harvested. Both grass and ground are too wet. A few farmers got in the fields early enough to make some baleage as long rows along hay field edges attest.
Water damage was not limited to the agriculture community. The Virginia Department of Transportation is dealing with three significant collapses of roadways, sad Jason Bond, communications officer for VDOT’s Salem District. Bond said the collapses were caused by materials under the pavement being washed from underneath causing both cracking and movement. All three will mean long-term reconstruction.
On the other side of the state in Henry County the Jubal Early Road in the Coopers Cave community collapsed in much the same way.
This happened in much the same ways. Dates for rebuilding these stretches of road have not been determined, Bond said.
He said there are other roads that are closed due to flash flooding and collections of debris in drains.
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