Anniston area ends 2013 as wettest year on record
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Jan 01, 2014 | 3251 views |  0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this file photo, Water pours down steps at the Oxford Baseball for Youth fields at Oxford Lake. For the Anniston area, 2013 was the wettest year since meteorologists began keeping records in 1903. Photo by Stephen Gross.
In this file photo, Water pours down steps at the Oxford Baseball for Youth fields at Oxford Lake. For the Anniston area, 2013 was the wettest year since meteorologists began keeping records in 1903. Photo by Stephen Gross.
slideshow
For the Anniston area, 2013 was the wettest year since the meteorologist began keeping records in 1903 — and that had many farmers praying for breaks in the clouds.

Anniston ended 2013 with 75.28 inches of rain, which is 25 inches more than normal, said Holly Allen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Calera.

Anniston’s precipitation totals this year broke the previous record of 69.1, set in 1975.

The cause of all the rain was due to changes in the areas overall weather pattern, Allen said.

“The general flow pattern this year across central Alabama was out of the northwest,” Allen said. “That resulted in systems that were more stable.”

The stable weather pattern meant less severe weather like tornadoes and strong storms but more rainfall, Allen said.

“Typically, during the summertime we’ll get flow out of the southwest,” Allen said. “This year we had flow out of the northwest, which kept the systems coming, and we didn’t have long periods of drought.”

Some crops suffered last year because of the record rainfall, said Don Wambles, director of the state Farmers Market Authority, a state agency that supports and advocates for farmers markets.

“We lost a lot of melons,” Wambles said. “They just swelled and burst.”

Large crops of beans literally rotted on the vine this year because of too much rain, Wambles said, but still other crops, including corn and grains, fared well.

“Most of our grains did very well, but some of our small grains, the rain was a little excessive and they had some mold in those,” Wambles said.

There were 80,000 fewer acres of peanuts planted in Alabama in 2013 than the previous year because of heavy rainfall, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop production report released in November, which resulted in 406,000 fewer pounds of harvested peanuts.

Corn production in the state increased by 55 percent from 2012 to 2013, largely due to the heavy rains, according to the U.S.D.A. report.

“Looking back, we had some farmers that had a very decent year, but some were hurt more than others,” Wambles said.

Stevie McCord organizes the Oxford Farmers Market, and buys produce from about 50 local and statewide farmers.

McCord said the record rainfall had many farmers complaining of ruined crops and short growing seasons.

“Prices skyrocketed,” McCord said. “Okra was very, very hard to get this year.”

Farmers can typically grow okra for about two months each year, McCord said, but this year’s growing season was shortened to about three weeks because of excessive rain.

That shortage of okra drove prices up from an average cost of about $20 a bushel to about $50 a bushel, McCord said.

Too much rain can also cause rot, which especially affects crops like potatoes and tomatoes, McCord said.

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of patrons that were telling me their tomatoes just wouldn’t grow because of too much rain,” McCord said.

Asked what to expect for 2014, Wambles explained that farmers are by nature optimistic in their outlook.

“Farmers are very resilient people…We’re always looking for the bright spot. That’s the life of a farmer,” he said.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

Comments must be made through Facebook
No personal attacks
No name-calling
No offensive language
Comments must stay on topic
No infringement of copyrighted material


Friends to Follow



Today's Events

event calendar

post a new event

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Marketplace