It's raining, it's pouring, it's normal: Baldwin County rainfall remains below season averages

By Allison Marlow
Managing Editor
allisonm@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 8/26/22

It's raining again.This is so, normal?Yes. Yes, it is."The Gulf Coast definitely is wet pretty much year-round," said Michael Mugrage, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile.In …

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It's raining, it's pouring, it's normal: Baldwin County rainfall remains below season averages

Posted

It's raining again.

This is so, normal?

Yes. Yes, it is.

"The Gulf Coast definitely is wet pretty much year-round," said Michael Mugrage, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile.

In fact, Baldwin County is just a smidgen of an inch below the average amount of rainfall for the summer months.

Pause here for your dramatic gasp.

Ready for another fun fact? Mobile ranks among the rainiest cities in the United States soaking in 66.4 inches of rain each year on average. Baldwin County is close behind with an average of 66 inches of rain each year. So far in 2022, Mobile has received 44.17 inches.

By comparison, Seattle, Washington, often the first guess for rainiest place, shakes off just 38 inches of rain in the same amount of time.

"The huge difference is our four-inch deluges of rain versus Seattle's kind of fine mist," said Jack Lecroy, regional extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. "It might feel like it's always wet there but it doesn't come down in the same quantity as often.

"Every afternoon here, you can expect some type of rainfall. I meet a lot of people who moved here from other parts of the U.S. and they're like, 'What is this?' It takes a while to get used to every afternoon there is going to be a thunderstorm."

And though it feels like we must certainly be hitting some rainfall records this summer, historically, this past June and July were only the 13th-wettest on record in the last 128 years, measuring just a few notches above the average rainfall in those months, which amounts to 6.2 inches and 7.3 inches respectively.

For comparison, the heaviest rainfall measured in the month of June came in 1900 when 16.33 inches fell. The rainiest July on record was in 1916 when 26.75 inches of rain flooded the region.

Still, it feels like the rain is never. Going. To. Stop.

Yards are overgrown. Mud remains muddy. Outdoor activities have been halted by lightning shows that quickly became scary.

Mugrage said while summer rain in the county's tropical climate is normal, the frequent heavy deluges are not. The area hasn't come close to meeting annual totals, but those rainfall amounts have not been evenly spread out, causing havoc in some areas.

"Mobile and Baldwin County have been taking the brunt of things over the past few weeks," he said.

During a heavy cloudburst on Aug. 18, flash flooding alerts were issued in Fairhope when 10 inches fell on that city in 24 hours as rolling thunder and frequent lightning strikes made school drop offs and morning commutes a slow, scary ordeal.

That same day, the fast-moving rainfall caused three sewage spills in Fairhope, dumping 150,000 to 200,000 gallons of waste overflow into waterways that lead into Cowpen Creek and Bigmouth Gully. The spills prompted the Alabama Department of Public Health to issue a swimming advisory for Fairhope Public Beach noting that swimming in the area may lead to an increased risk of illness. The advisory was canceled on Tuesday, Aug. 23.

Rivers filled to the brim, bringing the Styx River to 9.57 feet by 9:15 a.m. That river floods its banks at 12 feet. Fish River reached 5.55 feet by the same time and the Perdido River, measured on the Florida/ Alabama state line, was 9.64 feet deep by 9 a.m. Flood levels there are considered 13 feet deep.

All that extra moisture was driven over the county by a high-pressure system to the east, hovering over the Atlantic. Southerly winds moving out of that system pushed moisture into the gulf, upping the amount of wetness in our air and the amount of water available to growing storms.

"The storms love it," Mugrage said.

And soon, ta da. Sheets of rain on top of an already normally wet summer.

The good news: Mugrage said the cloud cover provided by all that rain has given much of the region a break from the record-breaking temperatures that ushered in the early summer months. Still, those high temperatures combined with slightly cooler temperatures caused by rainy days have not lowered the season's average temperature yet.

"The summer as a whole is still running a little bit above average thanks to that early hot start. It will be hard to erase that heat," Mugrage said. "If we had rain all summer, our temperatures would be below average."

And while it is impressive to see such downpours arrive without the power of a tropical storm behind them, Mugrage said those extra days of rain have no impact on hurricane season.

"More rain now has no correlation with less hurricane activity later, unfortunately," Mugrage said.

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