November 26, 2021

Cold, wet and weary

El Nino to put damper on the upcoming summer

Todd R. McAdam/contributing photographer

Jeff Jebbett of Homer cut this hay Monday on the field of neighbor Rob Hill. He needs perhaps three days for it to dry before bailing it, but the weather has meant farmers like Jebbett don’t get it. And expect that weather pattern to continue for the next couple of months, the National Weather Service projected.

Your feet feel like you’ve been splashing in puddles, even though you’ve learned to avoid them. You don’t know whether to wear a sweater because it’s cold, or a Hawaiian shirt because it’s muggy.

A co-worker looks out the window and wonders: “Are we ever going to see the sun?”

The short answer: Nope, at least not until the weekend. The longer answer: Nope for two months.

The weather in the greater Cortland area for the past several weeks hasn’t just been a bit damp and a tad chilly. It’s more than that. Depending on which part of Cortland County one lives, it has seen between 3.14 and 3.29 inches of rain, about 1.4 inches or 75% more than normal — just so far this month.

And chilly? Average temperature of between 59.9 and 62.8 degrees — somewhere between 2.2 and 3.1 degrees colder than normal, according to the National Weather Service.

In a word: Ick.

“It’s very discouraging,” said Anita Jebbett, whose husband, Jeffrey, mows hay on their farm. After a cutting, hay needs several days to dry before it can be baled. So far in the past few weeks that has happened, once.

“He’s struggled to get dry hay,” Jebbett said.

It’s a common enough problem, said weather service meteorologist Theodore Champney in the town of Maine. Farmers across the region face similar problems.

While people may have a chance at a drier and warmer weekend — “drier,” he said, not “dry” — the area first has to get through the next couple of days.

“Before we get there, we may have another inch or two,” he said, ranging from showers to heavy storms.

After that, the weather service expects a sunny Saturday, with a high near 70, and a sunny Sunday with a high that might reach a seasonable 75.

El Nino is to blame for the cold, wet late spring, he said. The pattern of warm water in the Pacific can cause weather fluctuations around the world. The changes mean weather fronts often come up along the Eastern seaboard, he said, bringing moisture with them. The world has been facing an El Nino season since last fall.

“It’s expected to continue through the summer,” Champney said.

Rob Hill of Hatfield Road in Cortlandville has done what he can to prepare. “We planted seedlings we hope will grow in wet weather,” he said, as he looked over his garden to a field of hay that Jeffrey Jebbett had mowed. Tomatoes don’t mind water, and if peppers like heat, they don’t mind wet roots, either.

“We didn’t bother with potatoes this year,” Hill said, worried they’d rot in the ground before they could produce a crop. “The onions are doing pretty good, though.”