Did Our Recent Rains Make A Difference?

The rainbow appeared over Cocke County on the evening of 10/24/2007 after three days of rain.
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Jefferson County (WVLT) -- We all love sunny fall days, but the rain was certainly a welcome sight earlier this week.

After suffering through one of the driest years ever, does an inch or so of rain in late October really make any difference?

Well, the week of rain won't solve the problem, but a local farmer and an agriculture professor agree that it did make a difference.

"I've never seen it this dry in my life,” said Roy Finchum, a Jefferson County Farmer. “I haven't heard anybody that's ever seen it like this."

That's really saying something when you consider that Finchum has been farming for a half century.

He knows when you run a farm, drought hits your bottom line.

"We've been buying feed just left and right,” the farmer said. “Matter of fact, they brought a load yesterday and it's just expensive."

How bad is the drought?

Well even after our recent rains, the official total for the year is still under 26 inches.

Normally we should have more than 39 inches by now.

That leaves us almost 13.5 inches below normal.

Even though farmers are hurting, especially when it comes to hay, they still benefited from the rain.

“I've sowed some rye for late winter grazing and this really helped it," Finchum said.

“Any rain is good rain,” said Joanne Logan, an associate professor of soil science at the University of Tennessee.

While she says the rain helped with late crops and reduced the fire risk in the region, there is a deeper problem.

Evidence of that problem is as nearby as the closest body of water.

"They all looked good the day after the storms,” Logan said, “but that's not going to help in terms or the long-term hydrological drought that we have, which is more the water resources like rivers and streams, and the groundwater, which is running about a foot behind normal for the year."

Fixing that deeper problem of low groundwater will take a while.

Professor Logan said even if we begin getting normal rainfall now, it would probably take six months to a year to get those levels back where they should be.

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