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July rainfall on record-setting pace

  • Concord crews work on getting Graham Road cleared after it was washed out yesterday.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff)

    Concord crews work on getting Graham Road cleared after it was washed out yesterday.

    (GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff)

  • Angel Milne of Concord walks down South Main St. on her way to Hall St. yesterday morning as the rain comes down heavily.<br/><br/>Milne delivers the Monitor.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff)

    Angel Milne of Concord walks down South Main St. on her way to Hall St. yesterday morning as the rain comes down heavily.

    Milne delivers the Monitor.

    (GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff)

  • Washout on Graham Road.<br/><br/>Handout photo

    Washout on Graham Road.

    Handout photo

  • Concord crews work on getting Graham Road cleared after it was washed out yesterday.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff)
  • Angel Milne of Concord walks down South Main St. on her way to Hall St. yesterday morning as the rain comes down heavily.<br/><br/>Milne delivers the Monitor.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff)
  • Washout on Graham Road.<br/><br/>Handout photo

Thunderstorms that swept through the area earlier this week have Concord on pace for historically high July rainfall.

As of midnight yesterday, 4.99 inches of rain had fallen in July, an amount that doesn’t include steady rain that fell most of yesterday morning. The number tops both the 30-year average for that time period, 1.74 inches, and the 3.25 inches that fell between July 1 and July 15 last year. This is the 148th year the National Weather Service has collected weather data in the Concord area.

“It’s a pretty big increase,” National Weather Service meteorologist Margaret Curtis said yesterday morning. “It’s definitely wetter than normal this month.”

Concord has seen 26.56 inches of rain to date in 2014, more than 5 inches more than the 30-year average and an increase over 21.85 inches that fell last year. If the pace continues, annual rainfalls could approach record-setting levels. “But we still have six months left to come back from it,” Curtis said.

Last summer was the 10th-wettest on record, with 15.53 inches of rain. Concord’s wettest summer was in 1897, when 20.49 inches fell; its driest came in 1999 when 2.74 inches fell.

Lightning and thunder rolled through the region late Tuesday into yesterday morning, prompting the weather service to issue a flash flood warning for the area that ended yesterday at 8 p.m.

Thankfully, the rain talk will be put on hold – at least for a few days.

“We’re finally going to have this front push off to the east of us by tomorrow,” said James Brown, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. “We’re going to keep improving over the next couple of days. It’s probably going to be wonderful compared to what we’ve had.”

The storm caused some minor headaches in the area.

A metal culvert on Graham Road was overwhelmed by heavy rains and needed to be repaired, said Concord General Services Department Director Chip Chesley. Crews spent the day excavating and backfilling the collapsed culvert, and they anticipated having the road cleared for travel by the end of the day.

There were no other road closures, he said.

“For the most part, what our crews observed was most of the puddling, or ponding, was in that area of Concord,” he said. “It seems like the intensity of the rainfall that happened overnight hit in that area.”

The storm knocked out power to 450 Unitil customers Tuesday night, said spokeswoman Sarah Grazier. A second outage yesterday about 5:45 a.m. affected about 2,200 customers, most of whom had power back by 9 a.m. Downed trees prompted the overnight outages, she said. Yesterday morning’s “large outage was due to an equipment issue that affected several substations and their downstream circuits. We suspect severe weather was the cause for the broken equipment,” Grazier said.

NHTI canceled morning classes because of power outages. The state Department of Transportation was without power for five hours starting at 5:45 a.m., said spokesman Bill Boynton. While many computers and work stations at headquarters are off generator power, primary operations weren’t disrupted, and no road closures were reported. “Emergency operations continue via the Transportation Management Center in Concord, which has full back-up power,” Boynton said in an email.

The heavy rains are manageable if they are spread over a few weeks, Chesley said. “Five inches over a month, that’s actually a good thing for the reservoir, but 5 inches in one day and then the lights are going to light up,” he said.

The reservoir, the principal water supply for Concord customers, can’t meet the entire need, so the town pumps water from the Contoocook River. “The more natural rain we have, the less we have to transfer and the less energy we use,” he said. “If you went up to the reservoir now, it would look very full.”

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com.)

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