Rain, rain go away; our basements are already full

Is it raining again yet?I’m writing this column to jinx the rain away. If I write about rain on a Monday for a Wednesday newspaper, maybe things will turn and stay sunny, making me look behind the news.

Bill Graham Platte Rambler

Although, it’s not likely. Soggy is a three-week slog through a basement with water in it. “My basement flooded, too,” said the sympathetic clerk at Lowe’s as I asked her what aisle the sump pumps were in. Oh I had one or two pumps around, but in times like these some of us need backups. Misery does enjoy company. An old friend I run into at the grocery store asked how things were going. A bit damp in the basement, I said. “Well you and everyone else,” she replied. It is nice to know you’re not alone. “I need to order some more of those. We’re sold out. I’m glad you told me,” the manager at the hardware store said. We were gazing down at the empty shelves that once held the hoses that attach to sump pumps. Oh the excitement when you live where the weather can still surprise even the old timers. Many of us never recall seeing so much water seep from the hillsides and run in the street curbs in Platte City. And it’s doing so day after day. Rivers ran out of their banks in the low ground; nothing new there. But things have been water logged above the norm, in the creeks and in the groundwater levels. The National Weather Service backs up our eyeball observations with data from their official metro rain gauge at the Kansas City International Airport. Rainfall totaled 10.25 inches in May at KCI Airport, 5.02 more than normal. This all started in mid-May with a bunch of rain that saturated the soil, followed by a Saturday night toad strangler that dropped 2 to 4 inches. I’d say Platte City and parts north got the full dose. Then a pattern began with more rain, a few days of dry weather followed by more rain that drives groundwater levels back up. About the time things were looking better, I drove home in a blinding rain to find deep ditches running bank full from flash flooding. And guess where else the water returned to? A year ago, I was bemoaning watering the vegetable garden in May, a time when cool temperatures and plentiful rain usually make things grow like crazy. Native trees, shrubs and wildflowers are growing like crazy this year. The Weather Service reported 3.70 inches of rain this month at KCI through Monday, 2.28 inches above normal for the monthly date. Bring on August. Ship some of these clouds to drought-stricken California. I feel like I’m living on a houseboat in a south-Louisiana bayou. Towel, please. The weather forecast for the remainder of this week is for good chances for more rain. Even during the epic 1993 floods, I don’t recall so much rain falling so quickly over my home neighborhood. Those rains fell over the entire Midwest and a lot of the flood water came from other locales. In 2011, flood levels were near or above record highs in Platte County upstream of Weston along the Missouri River, but most of that water came from melting snowpack in the Rockies and heavy rains in the upper Great Plains. Weather is everywhere but weather problems are very localized. Most Platte Countians paid little heed to a flood driving people out of homes in the Bean Lake area in 2011. If you’re dry, you’re good, is how weather psychology works. But when your house is in water’s way and water wins, nature seems untamed and human comfort fragile.

Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area with his family, may be reached by e-mail at editor@plattecountycitizen.com.