Archive - Aug 14, 2008
By JOHN S. McCRIGHT
ADDISON COUNTY — After suffering through an unusually wet summer area farmers have one eye on the skies and one eye on the calendar. If fields don’t dry out soon, many fear they will loose much of the feed they will need to keep their livestock productive this winter.
“This is going to be a critical time in the next three weeks,” said Craig Miner, executive director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Addison County. “We could have problems similar to 2006 if we don’t have extensive dry weather.
“The crops have defiantly been hurt by the rain.”
Lousy weather, beyond ruining picnics and vacations, means a lot in a county that is one of the largest dairy producers in Vermont. That is particularly true when wet conditions threaten the economic livelihoods of a large segment of the local businesses.
Farmers say their businesses have already been hurt, and the pain could get even worse.
“The hay we have standing has no feed value,” said Steve Getz, owner of Dancing Cow Farm in Bridport. “We’re crossing our fingers that we’ll get a good second cut (of hay) or we’ll be buying feed this winter.”
Getz believes he can buy forage from Canadian suppliers if it comes to that. “It’s good hay but it’s expensive,” he said.
The fact that diesel fuel prices are much higher this year than last only makes the expense of trucking in extra feed that much more costly.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
ADDISON COUNTY — An uncooperative and mysterious shift in the jet stream, the major west-to-east airflow across North America, lies behind this summer’s steady diet of wet weather, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist in Burlington.
The NWS’s Brooke Taber said that the jet stream, a high-speed upper atmosphere wind that he likened to a river of air flowing toward the East Coast, normally crosses well to the north of Vermont and New England at this time of the year.
But since early June the jet stream has sagged down across the northern U.S., where it soars between humid tropical air to the south and cooler air to the north.
The result, Taber said, is that Vermont and its neighbors are caught in a “battle zone” between the conflicting air masses that usually collide over central Canada.
The result Taber described probably goes without saying.
“This contrast of air masses has produced numerous showers and thundershowers across our area,” Taber said.
What has caused the summer without much sun is hard to say, he said, although experts have been able to rule out a couple of the usual suspects — changes in the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
“It’s a long wave pattern that has been very persistent across the U.S.,” Taber said. “It’s not El Niño or La Niña.”
When the pattern occurs, the showers and thundershowers follow; that much is known, Taber said. But why the pattern has persisted as well as why it started both remain unknown.
“That’s the question: Why has it hung in for several months now?” he said.
Although at times it may not seem like it, there was a point this spring it did not rain excessively: May saw just 1.94 inches of rain in Burlington, more than an inch below normal.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
MIDDLEBURY — In the second of two discussions this week focusing on the winter use of the municipal gym, Middlebury selectmen backpedaled during their Tuesday board meeting from tentative plans aired last month to close the space to reduce heating bills and conserve energy.
Town Manager Bill Finger reassured those who use he gym — including a large contingent from the growing teen center — that plans to close the gym had been tabled. Currently, he said, he’s exploring other solutions to counter a spike in heating prices that could double the already-steep $44,000 bill Middlebury paid to heat the town offices and municipal gym last year.
“The thought of closing the gym is not foremost in my mind — it’s more how can we reorganize the programs that are in the gym and how can we better control the heating system and make that more efficient,” he said.
Finger said that the “guestimate” is that the gym is responsible for around 70 percent of the entire building’s 20,000-gallon heating oil consumption.
Tuesday’s conversation followed on the heels of a meeting Monday for “stakeholders” in the municipal gym space, including members of the teen center, the Russ Sholes Senior Center and members of the recreation department.
Many of those same supporters turned out for Tuesday’s selectboard meeting to reiterate the importance of the space — including the role it plays in creating a vibrant downtown community.
“One of the things we all agreed on last night is how important this building is,” said Emily Joselson, a co-founder of the Addison Central Teens group that uses the 94 Main teen center. “We also agreed that everyone — you guys who work here, and we guys who play here — deserve a better building.”