Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Muddin' in East Manatee

I've never gone mudding, at least not on purpose.

Mudding is when you take a four-wheel drive vehicle and drive it through muck and deep water. I'm not sure if the object is to get to the other side without getting stuck, or to get your truck as dirty as possible. Probably both.

Sunday, we accidentally went mudding after a leaving Sunday worship. Leaving a crowded parking lot, I drove through a green lane, a swale, really, and got stuck. Under that nice green grass was nice black muck. No amount of four-wheel driving or rocking back and forth could get us out of the muck.

But five young guys came over and gave us a shove and got us unstuck.

The incident got me to thinking about all the rain that fell in August. It seemed like it might be a record.

But when I called the National Weather Service in Ruskin this week, I found that only half the normal rainfall for August, less than five inches, fell at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. That's the official, traditional location for recording weather in Manatee County.

Friday, in driving through the Myakka area, it seemed obvious that more than five inches of rain had fallen in the past few days.

If you want to know something about the weather, ask a farmer. Gary Reeder, who grows tomatoes in Duette, theorizes that airports are a bad place to record rainfall amounts. Too much concrete, he said.

A reader from Lakewood Ranch called to ask why the official measuring place for rainfall is SRQ. I had no good answer other than that's the location the Weather Service has always used.

BayNews9 had rain data for Lakewood Ranch and Ellenton, both of which recorded more than twice the rainfall in August as SRQ.

The conclusion: the official rain stats don't accurately reflect the rain picture for the entire county. Maybe there's no rain record locally for Manatee County in August. But ask any resident in the east, and they will tell you that it really did rain, and how!


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