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Seemingly Endless Rain Puts A Damper On Some Local Businesses

June 20, 2019 GMT

The seemingly unending rain has been rough on Sleepy Hollow Golf Course in Greenfield Twp., one of many local businesses hoping for drier days ahead. After slogging through a rain-soaked 2018, Sleepy Hollow owner Mary Petrilak said revenue and total rounds of golf played there are down again this year because of wet weather. And while the course has a reputation for staying open as long as conditions allow, sometimes well into autumn and occasionally even later, Petrilak said rain has hampered what would otherwise be the busy season. From the beginning of the year through Wednesday, 22.89 inches of precipitation fell on the area, about 6.46 inches more than normal, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tom Kines said. The soggy stretch follows a record-breaking 2018, which was the wettest year ever in the region with 60.11 total inches of precipitation. All that water has put a damper on seasonal businesses — and in some cases hurt their bottom lines. Petrilak’s business depends largely on revenue from golf leagues that on several recent occasions have canceled amid unplayable conditions. The weather-related drop in golfers affects other elements of the business as well; fewer players mean fewer patrons at the course’s restaurant and bar, she said. “We could have two or three relatively nice days and you think to yourself ‘everything will be better tomorrow,’ and then we get two days of thunderstorms and you’re back to square one,” Petrilak said. “The only consolation is the fact that you realize you’re not doing anything wrong. You just can’t control it.” She’s far from the only local business owner frustrated by weeks of drizzles and downpours. Michael Kravitsky, the owner of Larksville-based Grasshopper Lawns Inc., said wet conditions can make it impossible to use certain equipment on lawns without causing ruts and other damage, forcing the business to reschedule appointments. Wet weather also is conducive to weed growth and can hamper weed-control efforts, Kravitsky said. “This is our 55th year in business and we never have seen rain like this,” he said, noting heavy rain can compact soil and make it more difficult for grass roots to grow. Along with the other issues, Kravitsky said prolonged rain and moisture can keep roots from stretching deep into the soil, which makes them more susceptible to damage in the event of future droughts. Should a prolonged drought or dry spell occur now, “lawns are just going to burn up,” he said. At Roba Family Farms in North Abington Twp., owner and farmer John Roba said wet weather has caused pumpkin plants to come up more slowly and required additional spraying of the apple crop. The farm is better suited to handle wet weather than some others thanks to investments in tile drainage, diversion ditches and the fact that most of the trees there are grown on raised beds, but Roba said regular rain still “makes it very difficult to get our work done.” Roba said he feels particularly sorry for some dairy farmers who are dealing with low milk prices and two years of wet weather potentially hurting their ability to grow crops to feed their cows. Such farmers may be forced to buy feed elsewhere, making it even more difficult to make a profit, he said. “Some of the old timers would say ‘A dry year will scare you to death, but a wet year will starve you to death,’” Roba said. Prolonged wet conditions and regular rain also impacts the state Department of Transportation. Because wet roads are slippery and hazardous for road crews, PennDOT spokesman James May said the department has delayed several weather-dependant projects. At the same time, lots of rain can create drainage problems and cause new damage, adding to the list of roads in need of repair. “You now have to do the original work and the additional work,” May said. “Water is what does the most damage to roads.” What the near future holds in terms of rainfall remains to be seen, though meteorologists don’t anticipate this summer to be quite as wet as last summer. “We think rainfall can still be above normal, but just not quite as bad,” Kines said. “But boy if this trend keeps going, it’s going to be just as bad.”

Contact the writer: jhorvath@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9141; @jhorvathTT on Twitter