Originally created 06/20/03

Rains hit record pace



If recent rains persist, Augusta could be breaking rainfall records.

1964 brought Augusta 66.04 inches of rain - the most during any year since 1948, according to the National Weather Service.

By the end of June 1964, Augusta had been soaked with 32.4 inches.

Flash forward to 2003: As of Wednesday, Augusta had received 33.8 inches of rain.

Forecasters caution, though, that it's still too early to deem 2003 a record-breaker.

"I wouldn't want to go out on a limb and say it right now," said Frank Wells, a forecaster at the National Weather Service office in West Columbia, S.C.

"We've got a long way to go yet," Mr. Wells said. "You're going to have a few tropical systems coming through, or we could go through a dry spell right now."

Regardless of records, the recent deluge has caused headaches for Augustans whose jobs require outdoor work.

Olivia Mickalonis, the operations manager for Augusta Trees and Landscaping, said the wet weather is making it hard for her crews to do their assigned tasks.

"We can't mow the grass because we'll make ruts in the grass and it'll cause an uneven mowing surface," Ms. Mickalonis said. "And because we're not able to mow the grass or keep up with assigned areas, people are calling in and complaining."

Wet grass causes the mowers to clog, causing more difficulty, Ms. Mickalonis said.

She said her tree crew of five must take care of fallen limbs and trees caused by recent storms in addition to its normal work during the day.

"We're very tired," Ms. Mickalonis said.

For builders, the wetness causes delays in construction - and those delays cost them money, said Ernie Blackburn, who owns a construction firm.

"When you don't get the work done, the consequences are that it just cost you, when jobs move more slowly," Mr. Blackburn said.

"You just can't hardly schedule anything anymore," he said. "You have to call and cancel, and then reschedule. Your flow of work is dependent on efficiency, and you can't do it anymore."

"The same sort of thing happened during El Nino about four years ago," he said. "All you can do is be patient."

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.