Rainfall dampens summer for Pocono river rental companies
EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. (AP) — With rainfall totals 50 percent higher than average, the region endured one of the wettest summers in history during 2018.
While rushing waters and rapids may sound like a thrill seekers’ dream, the increased precipitation has produced one of the worst summers in memory for river rental companies.
“We were severely impacted by the higher water levels this year. Especially, July and August,” said Brad Sweeney, manager of Chamberlain Canoes. “Everybody that is in the rental business was severely impacted by the higher than average water levels.”
According to Ben Gelber, meteorologist, summer 2018 was the rainiest summer in state history and the sixth rainiest for the Stroudsburg region. Rainfall totals exceeded averages every month this summer and were more than double the average during August.
A total of 10.07 inches of rain fell during Aug. 2018; the only years with more rainfall were 2011 when 13.97 inches fell and 1955 where rainfall exceeded 15 inches.
“We have records that go back to 1911 and this is the third wettest August on record. We’re no longer talking top-10, we’re getting into the highest percentile,” Gelber said.
In total, the Stroudsburg region received 19.26 inches of rainfall this summer. Gelber explained that higher than average rain in early summer months can lead to wet and muggy summers like the one residents just experienced. The increased amount of moisture is caused by a deep, tropical flow of air coming from the Pacific Ocean - which Gelber said is unusual.
While the region has been spared from flooding, rivers and waterways still experienced increased water levels. For Sweeney, who has been in the business for more than 30 years, the rain and water levels combined to make this one of the worst summers in memory. For Sweeney, the month of August was particularly difficult.
“Usually, we have good temperatures and the water temperature is up into the mid 80s, just great for being out on the river. With the rain, temperatures never came up and I would say August was about 50 percent of what we normally do.
Even if the rain itself did not drive clients away, there were many times this summer Sweeney found himself turning away potential clients because the rivers were too dangerous. Sweeney explained Chamberlain Canoes follows National Park Service recommendations when making decisions about water levels and the water was too high during most of August.
“This area being a family-style recreational river, more for relaxation and checking out the scenery and taking in a nice casual day up there, it does hurt us,” Sweeney said. “We turned away a lot of people because they had no previous canoe or kayak experience.”
It appears the rainfall trend has continued from the summer months into September, as the region has already exceeded average rainfall just 18 days in. On Sept. 18, the Stroudsburg region had already experienced 5.3 inches of rain, which is 0.4 inches more than the average September, according to Gelber.
By the numbers
1955- 15.09 inches
2011- 13.97 inches
2018- 10.07 inches
2018 Summer - 19.26 inches
Average Summer - 12.93 inches
Sept. 1-Sept. 18, 2018 - 5.3 inches
Sept. Average - 4.98 inches
Information from: Pocono Record, http://www.poconorecord.com/