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Rare July weather in state has pros and cons

Mark down 2009 as the year that we had two springs: The regular one, then another one called July.

It was the second coolest July on record in Lexington, the coolest ever in Louisville.

And, although we didn't set any records for rainfall in Lexington, the skies opened often enough that your lawn sprinkler might be covered with cobwebs.

Here are a few ways the weather affected our daily lives in the month of mid-summer spring:

■ Baseball. Attendance has been up a little at Legends games, but the club had hoped for a huge increase.

"The weather has destroyed us," General Manager Andy Shaw said. "It seems inevitable that if it's going to rain, it rains between 5 and 7:30, which is prime time when people ... are deciding whether they're going to come or not."

On the other hand, he said, the well-watered field looks great for this time of year.

For the record, it rained on 13 of July's 31 days, said Keys Arnold at the University of Kentucky's Agricultural Weather Center. The official total for the month was 5.8 inches, just an inch above average.

■ Your electric bill. Air conditioners got a break as customers of Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas & Electric used 10 percent less juice than in a normal July.

A cool week in July isn't unheard of, but it usually is followed by a scorcher, company spokesman Cliff Feltham said.

This year, Kentucky's average temperature was five degrees below normal. It never hit 90 in Lexington for only the fourth July ever, and the first time ever in Louisville.

■ Your water bill. Why drag out a hose for your lawn, flowers or vegetable garden when water keeps falling from the sky?

Citing a new concern about crossing disclosure guidelines of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Kentucky American Water declined to say what its July numbers were. But you have to figure it was bad for their bottom line and good for yours.

■ Farm fields and gardens. Seventy to 80 percent of the state's corn, soybean and tobacco crops are in good to excellent condition, said Arnold at the UK Weather Service.

But late blight, a fungus that loves cool, wet weather, has made a rare appearance on tomato plants in at least eight Kentucky counties.

And just as afternoon rains keep baseball fans at home, early morning rain holds down crowds at the Lexington Farmers Market. But market manager Jeff Dabbelt says there always are dedicated souls willing to brave the wet weather for their weekly veggies and flowers.

■ Mow, mow, mow your lawn. It's cool enough that you don't die pushing the mower, but you have to mow more often because your grass is on steroids.

This is bad for the homeowner, but good for the pros.

"It feels more like spring than it does summer," said Jim Miller, owner of Miller Lawn Service. "It keeps the grass lush and green and it means there's a lot more mowing to do."

■ The water hazard. The number of rounds played at Lexington's four largest city golf courses was down 11 percent from last July.

Again, blame it on the rain.

"The decline has primarily been because of rain on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, because that's when most golfers play," said Jerry Hancock, director of the city's Division of Parks and Recreation.

■ Too cool for the pool. There's nothing like a cooling dip on a hot, dry summer day. But for the first three weeks of July (numbers for the last week are not yet compiled), visits to Lexington's public pools were down 16 percent.

"That's just plainly because of crummy weather," Hancock said.

It will be interesting to see which season August brings.

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