The Year of the Rain
Our friends of the Chinese calendar touted 2011 as the Year of the Hare. Since rabbits have long been revered in the Far East as wily creatures with speed, strength and kindness of heart, this was to be a memorable year.
Weather-wise, the year for our region had some rabbit traits about it, but in the end, the year behaved more like a Tiger. After a “slow as a tortoise” dry start to winter, the rains came in March. Like a jack rabbit on steroids, once the rains turned on they really didn’t stop until all sorts of records had been established in the Ohio Valley.
Thanks to a lot of down sloping southeast winds, the Kanawha Valley was spared the worst of the rains. Still with more than 50” of rain falling in Charleston compared to a normal year’s rains of 42”, 2011 will also be known as a wet one.
So in honor of the cutest, most cunning and craziest rabbit of them all, Bugs Bunny, here’s a look back at the weather in 2011. Sufferin' succatash did it rain!
I just stated a rather dubious statistic that the winter of 2011 was dry! That may seem erroneous given our memories of a snowy winter, but the snows fell with a twist.
Sure it snowed and snowed and snowed, for the winter (including November-December 2010) more than 30 inches fell over the course of 30+ days of snowfall, but hopes of a big snowstorm went a begging. In effect, it snowed a lot, but not heavily. You see the snows were arctic in nature, falling as a dry powder most of the time when the temperature was bitter cold.
If you tried to make a snowball or snowman last winter, chances are you had to work really hard. Outside our studios, I played curling with Tim and Chris with a broom. Folks brushed snow off their cars and swept it off their sidewalks with brooms all winter long.
The snows melted early and by mid-late February a taste of spring invaded. That set the stage for an unusual February rash of brush fires.
By March Mother Nature’s water faucet turned on as the rains arrived and for the next 10 months fell in buckets. The wettest spring on record in the Ohio Valley was followed by an often stormy summer.
Thanks to the storms, the hottest weather of the summer waited for Labor Day weekend. I recall that Friday night reporting from Scott Riggs and Family Stadium as the Coal Grove Hornets invaded the home of the Athens High Bulldogs. Recall how the stadium had been ripped apart by a tornado in September of 2010. The newly renovated stadium attracted a huge crowd that night after a near 100 degree day!
The next day I was in Portsmouth for a scorching River Days parade. The large crowd that assembled at 10AM dispersed before the parade was over as temperatures soared to 95 by high noon. Frankly, it was too hot for a parade.
That Sunday dawned hot and humid but ended with a round of violent thunderstorms here at home and in Morgantown for the Friends of Coal Bowl.
The autumn continued the drenching trend and by December, areas in the Ohio Valley began to break all time wettest year records. By year’s end, Parkersburg had amassed its 2nd wettest year and from Huntington-Ashland-Ironton downstream to Portsmouth, Cincinnati, Louisville and Paducah Ky, 2011 went into the books as the wettest since record keeping began (late 1800s). In Huntington the 1989 record of 60” of rain was eclipsed by early December. The year ended with more than 62” of rain.
I hope you enjoy the enclosed story that ran on 5:30 edition on the “Year of the Rain”.