posted on August 01, 2011 15:32
Mother Nature got active in the overnight hours, dropping a blanket of rain and inch-wide hail on Genesee and Orleans Counties. That could spell trouble for farmers, who have been caught in a bad weather cycle ever since the snow melted.
A record-wet spring, followed by dry summer months and record-breaking heat in July, has made fields almost impossible to tend this year. And National Weather Service meteorologist Steve McLaughlin says those factors came together to make last night's storm happen.
"They were very isolated (thunderstorms) – no one else in the state got them," says McLaughlin of our strongest thunderstorms so far this year. The system swept through Oakfield, Elba, Byron and Bergen, as well as the southern portion of Orleans County. An isolated cell was also reported in Attica.
"The showers formed on a warmfront that crossed Lake Ontario," he says. "And Lake Ontario is very warm this year, it's in the mid-70's. So they actually became enhanced a bit by the lake, almost like a lake-effect situation."
That spelled trouble for farm fields, specifically corn, onions and apple trees. Early reports from the Genesee County Farm Service Agency indicate that no fields were completely lost to the storm, but a good deal of crop was sitting in ponding water this morning, and apple trees were especially hard-hit by the hail.
"Some crops are in the mature stage now, where they can suck up all that water and put it to good use," says Joanne Crosman of the Farm Service Agency. But others are fragile and will be susceptible to heavy damage.
Concrete numbers will not be compiled until Wednesday. In the meantime, the Farm Service Agencies for Genesee and Orleans Counties are asking all farmers to call them with damage reports.
You can reach the Genesee County branch at (585) 343-9167. The number for Orleans County Farm Service is (585) 589-5320.