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While last week’s intense thunderstorms caused pedestrians to scramble for shelter and motorists to drive more carefully on streets and county roads, area growers are rejoicing.
Thursday’s intense thunderstorm near rush hour resulted in .64 inch of rain and pea-sized hail to fall within 45 minutes. The Lahontan Valley also experienced afternoon rain showers extending into the early evenings on Friday and Saturday.
“The rains made a big difference for the agricultural communities and kept things greener,” said Scott McGuire, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Reno. “The normal fire season has been delayed quite a bit. It’s been a good thing all around.”
Reports of flooding within Fallon were reported. Hardest hit were A and Ada streets and the Ideal Mobile Home Park.
“Basically, this intense storm produced a huge amount of water in a short amount of time,” said city of Fallon Engineer Jim Souba. “It overwhelmed our storm drain systems.”
He said the mobile home park has its own road and drainage systems, but the city took its pumps to one of the side streets bordering the mobile home park and pumped out water to alleviate the flooding.
Likewise, he said a crew was also pumping water out in front of the American Legion Hall on North Ada Street.
Souba, though, said the storm drain system worked well near the convention center and behind Safeway and Oasis Academy. The Venturacci Lane-Keddie Street intersection, he said, did not experience the same problem with rising water as it did in June.
BLESSING FOR GROWERS
Grower Rick Lattin of Lattin Farms said the rains this month have helped with the growing of cantaloupes.
“This unseasonable hot weather was killing us with the drip system,” Lattin said of the high-90 and triple-digit temperatures that scorched the area in late June.
Lattin said the cooler temperatures and rainy weather during the past 10 days have given him a chance to recharge his watering system. Not only did Lattin purchase some underground water but he also had more pond water.
Additionally, Lattin said the rain has given him an opportunity to grow a second crop of alfalfa.
“The rain came at the right time, it stayed a little cloudy and gave it (the water) a chance to soak into the ground,” Lattin said, adding the water allowed him to cultivate sealed rain water into the soil structure.
With the temperatures returning to the 90s, Lattin said daily highs between 90 to 95 degrees are ideal for growing cantaloupes and watermelons.
“We’re picking watermelons and cantaloupes right now, but the hot weather did bring them along,” Lattin added.
Ernie Schank, president of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District Board of Directors and a local rancher, said the rains from the last six weeks have made a big difference. Prior to the growing season and with the outlook of receiving water grim, Schank said he divided his landinto half.
“We chose the acreage we would irrigate and get two irrigations on it,” Schank said. “But the rains came at the time and reinforced the surface water. We got a decent crop with one irrigation.”
Now, with the rains, he said a second crop also looks decent, better than he had expected.
Normally, in a good growing season, Schank said the county’s ranchers and farmers produce three, possibly four, good crops for cutting.
“The early rains extended the growing season, and the water didn’t evaporate as quickly,” Schank said.
The recent trend in cooler temperatures and more summer rain reminds Schank of a similar period in the early 90s.
“In the 1992 to ‘94 time period, the summer drought broke when we had a similar summer to this,” Schank said, adding that El Nino was beginning to form in the Pacific Ocean.
Likewise, Norm Frey, a rancher and former county commissioner, said he is thankful for the free water after the TCID water season closed. He said his cuttings have been good so far, and he predicts a third cutting could also be beneficial based on the soil’s quality.
“We had been sprinkling from a well, but that can only reach out so far from the one well we have,” Frey pointed out.
So far, he said the family has also been able to complete three irrigations of corn at another family ranch south of Fallon where corn is used at the Frey Ranch Distillery.
“We have been fortunate to have that extra shot of water,” Frey said.
rare weather pattern
McGuire said it’s been a decade when he last saw the intense thunderstorms and heavy rains pelt Northern Nevada.
“We have never seen that type of weather every day for two weeks,” he said. “It was an anomaly for this region.”
McGuire said the intensity of the thunderstorm cells was remarkable. Although Churchill County has reported about an inch of rain for July, he said one storm brought 1.65 inches of rain to northern Douglas County last week.
He said four separate flash floods inundated the Johnson Lane/Stephanie Way area.
“That was way too much day-after-day rain for our whole area,” he said. ”The rates were incredible.
A weather trough remains north of the Great Basin. Because of that, McGuire said thunderstorms could form this weekend, but the uncertainty of the weather this summer, however, is causing the NWS to change each forecast pattern closer to the weekend.
McGuire said high temperatures will inch up to the mid 90s by the end of the week with mornings in the low 60s.