Back Roads: Weather observer watches the rain add up
GRAND MEADOW — The sun was shining Saturday morning, and Jim Blomgren could finally hang laundry outside his Grand Meadow home. Perhaps best of all, he found no rain in his rain gauge.
For once, he wouldn't have to be the bearer of bad news, and rain totals.
In May, the volunteer National Weather Service weather observer recorded snow, rain and more rain. When his daily observations were totaled, they came to 14.64 inches, meaning Blomgren reported the third-wettest May in the state's recorded history. The top two are 15.79 inches last year in St. Francis and 15.02 in 1918 in Chatfield.
He wasn't impressed, nor did he feel particularly historic or special.
"There's not much I can do," he said. "I just say, 'This is what we got.' I don't like it either. I had water in my basement."
In May, his recordings also broke records for snow, heat and cold. This comes after last year, when it was his dismal duty to report virtually no rain, leaving that area in a bad drought.
"It was really something when you sit back and think about it," he said.
The numbers he records are more than statistics. "To me, it's a sad deal to have that much rain because it affects everybody," he said.
Farming friends had to contend with soaked fields, hurting both farmers and those who depend on farming.
"When those people aren't doing anything, no one else is either," he said.
The rain and snow also meant his job working for the Mower County Highway Department was turned upside down. Instead of sealing cracks and filling potholes, he had to put his snow blade back on for a May 2 snowstorm that buried Grand Meadow under more than a foot of wet, sloppy, hard-to-budge snow.
A few weeks later, a massive downpour forced him to plow cornstalks and other debris off county roads when they flooded.
He's also Grand Meadow's mayor, and knows that heavy rain means more pumping for the wastewater treatment plant. "I just dread it every time it starts to rain."
He volunteered to be a weather observer 16 years ago, and his goal is to keep tallying precipitation, heat and cold for at least another 15 years. The Grand Meadow station is one of the oldest volunteer observer stations in the state.
He's proud of that, even if part of his job is being bearer of bad news.
Back Roads is a weekly column on people and places in Southeast Minnesota. If you have a tip, call John Weiss at 285-7749.