- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2003

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Julia Pallares concedes she got a little cranky when soggy weather ruined her plans for a bike ride and a barbecue during the weekend.

But the Takoma Park resident had no gripes with Mother Nature yesterday when a welcome burst of sunshine and warm temperatures arrived in the metro area, sending her and a slew of others workers to the Mall to eat lunch.

“You realize all the things you could be doing,” said Miss Pallares, 35. “I get a little restless. I had started thinking of places I could go where there would be sun.”

Joe Robison of Baltimore also took advantage of one of the few dry days in recent weeks.

Mr. Robison, 38, said the sunny weather had perked up his mood and given him a chance to take a walk during a break from his job as a Web designer.

The weather “has a definite effect on the emotional well-being of people,” he said. “Every day I look at the weather forecast and I get more and more pessimistic about it.”

Mr. Robison and several others in the metro area said they keep hoping the weather will improve as summer approaches.

“Since it rained so much upfront, maybe it will be good for a couple months,” said Lido Ramadan, 27, of Arlington, who took the rare opportunity to eat lunch at an outdoor table at the Capitol City Brewing Company next to Union Station.

Rare indeed, said forecaster Richard Hitchens of the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va. He said the sunny skies will disappear as early as tomorrow when a cold front is expected to move into the area and remain until Saturday.

“I don’t think it will rain continuously, but it looks like it’s going to hang out for a while,” Mr. Hitchens said. “You will probably see at least a shower or a thunderstorm on each of those days.”

He also said the growing frustration with the weather is understandable because there has been at least a trace of rain on 30 of the past 40 days. A total of 7.06 inches of rain fell at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport last month, which is almost twice the average for the month.

The continuously soggy weather has damaged more than just people’s attitudes; it has spelled disaster for those who rely on good weather for their livelihood.

Leo Tobar closed her souvenir stand near Union Station several times in recent weeks due to downpours.

“A little rain is alright,” said Mr. Tobar, a Springfield resident whose family has operated the stand for 14 years. “This has been too much rain. The merchandise gets damaged.”

Farmers are behind by about two weeks in harvesting their crops because of the soggy weather, said Norman Bennett, a statistician for the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

About a third of hay was cut as of yesterday compared with about 88 percent during an average year, according to a report released yesterday by the department.

“They’re real concerned about their hay crops,” Mr. Bennett said. “That is something they just can’t do when it’s really wet.”

Some farmers have switched to corn varieties that grow faster because of the shortened season, said Sue DuPont, a spokeswoman for the department. About 85 percent of field corn was out of the ground as of yesterday, compared with about the 94 percent harvested at this point last year.

“It’s so muddy we’re hearing they are having trouble getting into their fields,” she said.

About 48 percent of strawberries were harvested as of yesterday, significantly below the 80 percent at this point last year. Mr. Bennett said farmers are worried about strawberries getting diseases because they grow very close to the ground, which is now soggy.

“Extra moisture is not good for disease,” he said. “The fruit itself is smaller than average.”

This article is based on staff reports and wire dispatches.

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