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Williamstown experiences wettest summer, fall in 130 years

2021-07-08-RAINRAIN-5

A motorist splashes through a puddle on Route 2 in Williamstown during heavy rain in July. Summer and early fall were the wettest in Williamstown since records have been kept.

WILLIAMSTOWN — The summer and early fall in town turned out to be wetter than any other year since record keeping started 130 years ago, according to Jay Racela, Environmental Analysis Lab supervisor and lecturer at Williams College.

He noted that while there were fewer rainfall events, they produced more rainfall than typically had been seen in previous years.

“When we did get rain, it was heavy,” Racela said. “Our seasonal temperatures are not far out of the norm, but with precipitation, it was a marked increase. That is exactly what the models are predicting — wet areas will get wetter, and dry areas will get drier as climate change accelerates.”

He noted that seven of the wettest years in Williamstown have occurred since 2000.

“And that is likely to continue as the weather gets more extreme,” Racela said.

More than 33 inches of rain fell in Williamstown at the Hopkins Memorial Forest weather station, more than twice the average of about 16 inches for those months. The growing season (May to September) was the third-wettest on record. Williams College operates the weather station as part of an instrumental network that provides data for teaching and research.

Across the Berkshires, excessive rainfall interfered with outdoor events, damaged crops, flooded basements and made it hard to mow fields, but it might have been responsible for an unusually good mushroom crop in local forests, Racela said.

At the Hopkins Forest weather station, the water table has remained close to the surface since early July, Racela noted. It usually retreats to depths of about 5 feet during the summer, as vegetation harvests water from the soil. This fall, the water table is just below the surface, about 2 feet higher than the 18-year average.

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