Fayette County

Morning drizzle pushes Lexington to rainfall record

Background: Raindrops clung to Nandina bush berries on Tuesday in Lexington. david perry | dperry1@herald-leader.com
Background: Raindrops clung to Nandina bush berries on Tuesday in Lexington. david perry | dperry1@herald-leader.com HERALD-LEADER

It's official: The early-morning drizzle Tuesday was enough to make 2011 the wettest year on record in Lexington, and the rain didn't stop there.

As of 7 a.m., the Lexington area had received 0.67 inches of rain, bringing the 2011 total to 65.86, compared with the old record of 65.76 set in 1935, according to the National Weather Service in Louisville.

"We picked up just over half an inch of rain overnight, and that was enough to break the record," meteorologist Chris Bailey said Tuesday afternoon. "We're likely going to pick up another half-inch today, so we're going to put a little distance on second place."

Bailey's forecast proved true. By 4 p.m., the last data available Tuesday, the city had gotten 1.16 inches of rain for the day, bringing the yearly total to 66.35 inches, topping the old record by 0.59 inches.

Thorold "T.D." Harris, a retired physician, was out in the rain early Tuesday morning to retrieve his Rosie recycling container from the curb, but he wasn't complaining. Harris, 84, said the steady rains kept his lawn and gardens lush and green all year and held down his water bills.

"It really has been a blessing," he said.

Somewhat fittingly, Harris said his name, Thorold, is derived from the "Scandinavian god of lightning and thunder."

A native of Utah, Harris came to Lexington in 1981. He also lived in Cincinnati for a while.

"The water bills for watering all my plants are pretty high, but I had so much rainwater for them this year that it really was refreshing," he said. "I've enjoyed every inch of it."

Andrea Schoettmer, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Louisville, said Lexington probably will get some precipitation over the final days of the year, but it probably won't be enough to push the new record to an inch beyond the 1935 record total.

"Seventy-six years: That's a pretty long time for a record to stand," she said.

Several Kentucky cities, including Louisville, already have established rainfall records this year.

"We have been in a lot of weather patterns over the year that were particularly wet," Schoettmer said. "This winter in particular, we've been in a La Niña pattern, which brought a lot of storm systems through the area and keep us wet, especially in November and December. We also had an unusually wet spring, and there was a good spell of rains coming through in the latter part of the summer."

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