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Who'll stop the rain?

If meteorology student Joe DTomasso and his team of Lyndon State College weather forecasting interns are correct, the current cycle of thunderstorms and heavy rains should break in early or mid September. DTomasso, a resident of Providence, R.I., is focusing his academic research on New England weather patterns which he jokes are good one day and bad the next. According to DTomasso, Vermont has been under an unusually extended jet stream blocking pattern since April. The low jet stream plus a ridge or wall of high pressure over Greenland have contributed to trapping atmospheric lows over the Great Lakes and eastern Canada, he said. While the details are unclear, warm water in the north Atlantic may be to blame for the big ridge. We just dont know for sure. According to the team of young meteorlogists, the jet stream changes every eight to 14 days, but weve been locked in this pattern for four months. While its unusual, its not unheard of in weather records. Is the current cycle of storms and heavy rain linked to the Pacific Oceans El Nino effect? No, said DTomasso. Right now were in a neutral phase between El Nina-La Nina periods. La Nina periods should bring a few years of drier, sunnier summers to our part of the world although entering and exiting the cycle typically sees an increase in precipitation in northern New England. For our rain pattern to change, said DTomasso, the ridge of high pressure over Greenland must move. No one has a crystal ball, he said, but were forecasting that the Greenland ridge should break by September. One good thing about the current blocking pattern is that can deflect Atlantic hurricanes away from northern New England. Vermont is long overdue for a big Atlantic hurricane, said D-Tomasso. As long as the blocking pattern is in effect, itd steer a hurricane away from us. But the hurricane season may last longer than blocking effect. DTomassos student team of forecasters are predicting an increase in snowfall in northern northern New England this winter. Theres a possibility that we will have another strong winter--or not, he said. DTomasso noted that were in a cooling trend for the long-term. We shouldnt get in a panic over global warming, he said. While we should all do environmentally smart things like use alternative fuels and drive fuel efficient cars, we shouldnt panic. According to Heather Darby, a field crops and nutrition management specialist with the UVM Extension service, too much rain damages crops and the evidence is all around us. With heavily water-saturated soils, plants are unable to take up nutrients, said Darby. The yellowing of crops is due to the inability of plants to take up nitrogen. Unfortunately, fertilizers used to treat the problem have been washed away by rains, she said. Small grain crops have been damaged this summer, too. Excessive rain and humidity have increased various crop diseases. Feed and sweet corn crops have been affected. Poor pollenation, also linked to the rain, is a contributor. According to Darby, the wave effect seen in local cornfields where some plants are unevenly short and tall began with the dryness of April and then was exacerbated by the wetness starting in June. This years strawberry harvest appears to be the worst in many years. Many Vermont pick-your-own farms never opened to the public, according to Darby. Excessive rains damaged berries and high humidity contributed to plant-rotting diseases. On the other hand, blueberries endure excessive rainfall and mold better than strawberries; this years crop looks good. But theres more bad news for farmers, Darby said. Vermonts hay crop has been negatively impacted from excessive rainfall. Many local farmers are gloomy about this years hay crop. Cows and horses rely on large amounts of hay unfortunately, both quality and yield are down this year while the price of hay is on the rise. Unsettled weather is expected to persist across Vermont for much of the week ahead as an upper level low meanders over eastern Canada. Weather Channel forecasters say cooler-than-average temperatures are expected for much of the week ahead. The current low is expected to lift late in the week and into the weekend. For the short-term, however, highs will be cooler than average itll feel more like autumn than high summer.

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