The summer of 2009 will be remembered for primarily one thing: rain.
“Summer? It didn’t start until the first week of August,” said James H.K. Norton of Norton Farm in Vineyard Haven. “We had no sun for two months. We planted everything in a timely fashion, but nothing ripened because there wasn’t any sun.”
Island farmers, fishermen and sailors all were affected by the bad weather.
“Tomatoes never made it,” said Jim Athearn of Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown. “We had two separate fields of tomatoes and treated them differently. They looked good for awhile and then got diseases.”
Norton Farm, on the other hand, did pretty well with its tomatoes.
At Morning Glory the successful crops were corn and hay, although the corn started late. Mr. Athearn said the hay yield in his West Tisbury and Katama fields was 5,000 bales compared with 3,500 bales last year. But it was tough getting the hay down and in between rainstorms. Mr. Athearn managed to find two and a half days in June for haying. “I would have preferred at least three days,” he said.
Data from the National Weather Service cooperative station in Edgartown and other stations across New England confirms the soggy story of this summer.
Over 43 inches of precipitation has fallen so far this year; the annual average for the year is 45.8 inches.
August saw 6.58 inches of rain.
There were 25 days in June when there was measurable precipitation.
July saw 4.82 inches of rain, two inches above average. There were 17 days in July that produced measurable precipitation.
“All the cool weather crops did well: peas, lettuce is still going and our cabbage was the best in years,” said Clarissa Allen of the Allen Farm in Chilmark. “Our Corriedale sheep didn’t mind. Once they were shorn they didn’t care if the weather was off,” she said.
Scott McDowell, a charter fisherman working out of Menemsha, said it was not just the rain but the wind. “It was the windiest summer I can remember. I just finished my 19th year,” said Mr. McDowell. “The wind kept us tied to the dock. It cancelled charters. You hear that we are all worried about the economy, but it was the wind, stupid,” he said.
The good news is that there was no hurricane, although one came close. Hurricane Bill roared up the Atlantic seaboard hundreds of miles offshore on the weekend of August 22, churning up seas and sending huge swells onto Island shores. Along with plenty of wind.