Forecast looks favorable for FourthPublished 10:21am Wednesday, July 3, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/STAFF WRITER
FRANKLIN—Skies in Western Tidewater are expected to be mostly clear for fireworks on Independence Day this Thursday. That’s according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield, which also forecasts only a 20 percent chance of rain. Highs that day will be in the upper 80s, with lows in the lower 70s at night.
Friday will again be partly sunny, with highs around 90.
Meanwhile, today is expected to be partly sunny with a chance of showers in the morning, and a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs will be in the upper 80s. The chance of rain tonight is 40 percent.
“Rainfall during the past two days has been varied from place to place,” said Lyle Alexander of the NWS. ‘We’re looking at under an inch in most locations, but perhaps up to two inches in a few local areas.”
He added that northeast North Carolina got from two to four inches a few days ago, and toward Wakefield amounts up to two inches fell.
“We’ve removed the flash flood watch for the Hampton Roads area,” Alexander said. “There could be some flooding and showers, but nothing significant.”
What is noteworthy about the rain of late is how it’s affecting agriculture.
“The weather, generally speaking, for the farming community over the last two weeks, has been challenging to put it mildly,” said Chris Drake, extension agent for Southampton County. “There have been many days of cloudy, overcast days with rainfall events nearly every day somewhere in the county. The totals for rain vary from an inch to as much as seven inches over the last two weeks in some places.”
Drake said the wheat harvest isn’t done, and there’s still nearly 15,000 acres of double crop soybeans to be planted. When planting dates are pushed to the middle of July, then the yield potential can be significantly reduced. This in turn means a potentially huge loss of income in Southampton County.
“Weed control and fertility management has been very tough because farmers simply cannot get into fields to maintain their crops and apply herbicides and fertilizer,” he said. “Heavy rains have leached critical nitrogen and sulfur out of the root zone of cotton plants leading to yellow and slow-growing cotton fields.”
The agent said he knows of one farmer living just northwest of Newsoms who has a digital gauge that automatically keeps a total of rainfall and has reported he’s gotten 21.3 inches of rain since May 16.
“Our normal rainfall for this area is about 44 inches for an entire year, if that puts it into perspective,” Drake said. “If the weather pattern becomes more favorable, i.e., sunny and hot, crops will start to grow vigorously and – hopefully – progress to an acceptable level.”