Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weather forecast for the Upstate: more rain

We’ve had our fair share of rain recently – maybe more than our share. The drought was officially declared over in April, and although it can take a couple of years to replenish groundwater reserves after a drought cycle ends, the spring rains have done that and more. So far this year rain totals taken at GSP put the Upstate on track to meet the record for most rain in a year, which was in 1901. For example, the month of June saw 5.5 more inches of rain than average. Lake Hartwell, which saw the lowest water levels in years last summer, has overfilled, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to open all 12 of the dam’s floodgates. The last (and only) time the lake was this full was in 1964, two years after it was built.

Hartwell dam with floodgates open, source here
I will not complain, especially with the dry and hot conditions out west wreaking havoc for firefighters and farmers. In fact the rain has really not disturbed our daily routine, nor has it changed many plans. We were in Latvia for a few weeks of the constant rain which worked wonders on the garden; the rate of production increased trifold while I was not tending it (check out this cucumber, it’s a pickling variety!).

A spur of the moment baseball game at Fluor Field (Greenville vs. Asheville) was delayed due to rain, but we stayed warm and dry at a nearby restaurant, watching the lightning and deluge while enjoying a BBQ plate and local beer. The blueberry festival, a hike on the Swamp Rabbit Trail and a few other outside activities might have been cut short by storms, but mostly we have found enough indoor activities to keep the stir-crazies at bay.

What have been suffering from the heavy rains are our trees. One of the main reasons the North Main area is such a sought after neighborhood to live in are the gorgeous mature oak trees that line the streets of this historic community. We’ve lost too many to developers squeezing oversized boxes onto subdivided lots; now they’re falling of their own accord. A few weeks ago we lost electricity when a giant limb took down some power lines, and a lightning strike broke off a large limb off a neighbor’s tree last week, assuring that the whole tree will probably have to be cut down.

An old, mature water or live oak is usually not a threat to homeowners, as oak is dense, strong wood that resists rot, disease and insects. Too many times homeowners or the city will react in fear, pruning branches to “prevent” future problems. Oftentimes it’s the pruning that causes the problem, allowing insects or disease entry to the healthy tree, forming a space for water to collect to cause rot. Nearby construction can hurt the root system, increasing potential for wind or water to topple a tree. Even irresponsible mowing and weed-wacking can wound trees, leading the way for insects and disease to cause eventual problems. A few months ago the city did a hack job on several of the large trees on the block, but they left the rotten limb that eventually caused the power outage; of course hindsight is 20/20, but there was no reason to lopsidedly trim healthy trees, leaving large rotten limbs (that had been reported ) to do their damage.

Crate myrtles and a shower of flower petals
When the sunshine does emerge, it reminds us that it’s July in the South. We stay in the shade (of the large trees we are fortunate to have in our backyard), hide out indoors (where the AC is on but is boosted by the shade thrown on the house by those same trees), head out early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the hottest hours of the day, and wonder how or relatives and friends are faring through similar hot temperatures… only they live up north, in Illinois, Michigan, New York…

Watching the yard waste truck deal with the pile of debris
Yep, the rain I will not complain about, and the heat we’ll deal with, but the mosquitos, now that’s a different question. Hope everyone had a great weekend, and wishing everyone a cool week!

The very first instruction...


  1. Hi There, We've had our share of rain this year also.. However, the past week--most of the rains have missed us allowing us to dry out some... I do love the rain --and cooler temps....

    The utility company 'butchers' our trees also. Drives me crazy --but all we can do is sit and watch.... Dang!!!

    Have a great week.

  2. Mac's is not the best BBQ around nor the best service, but the atmosphere and location is what makes it so great. Well, along with an amazing beer selection. Glad you liked it! Have you tried Bacon Brothers yet?


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