John Grymes | 4/19/2005 10:28:28 PM
When it comes to weather, the Bayou State receives regular reminders that Mother Nature is in charge and that 'she' loves to keep things stirred up, according to LSU AgCenter weather specialist and extension climatologist Jay Grymes.
"Although Florida has been Mother Nature’s punching bag this hurricane season, she sent October's flood-producing Tropical Storm Matthew our way to keep us aware that Louisiana is also a favorite target for landfalls," Grymes says.
The LSU AgCenter climatologist points out that 2004 has already been marked by a number of significant shifts in rainfall trends, including an unusually wet May-June followed by near-drought conditions for much of the state during the mid- and late-summer weeks.
"But apparently that wasn't enough," he says.
All in all, however, Louisiana has had far more severe years. Most recently, 2002 was particularly tough.
"There were unusually heavy rains in mid October of that year right on the heels of near back-to-back landfalls of T.S. Isidore and Hurricane Lili," Grymes recalls, noting, "Estimates of losses attributed to just that three-week period of severe weather rose to $500 million or more, with a large portion of that inflicted on the state's agricultural sector."
Although certainly not a repeat of 2002 (at least not yet!), Grymes says that 2004 has already proved to be a tough year for agriculture and horticulture. And, as is usually the case for Louisiana, rain (or the occasional lack of it) has been the primary culprit in terms of environmental and agricultural impacts.
A look at year-to-date totals indicates that even with the near-drought conditions that plagued much of Louisiana during the mid to late summer, rainfall is running near- to above-normal statewide - and that's before we throw in the widespread 4-inch to 12-inch rains attributed to October's Matthew!
"Our lesson is that when it comes to rain, even in the nation's ‘wettest’ state, timing is everything," Grymes says, adding, "And yes, based on statewide averages, Louisiana ranks as the nation's wettest state."
More often than not, it's the timing and the distribution of rains rather than the longer-term totals that have the greatest impacts on Louisiana agriculture.
For information on related topics, visit the AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.