5 Inches of Rain in 24 Hours: Blessing or Curse?

Reader Contribution by Blythe Pelham

To be honest, we fell just short of five inches. Our grand total was 4.7 inches of rain. It began with a gentle .35 overnight and then came in doses longer in duration with larger drops and more vigor. By the time we reached evening, we logged one dousing of 2.7 inches in a relatively short period of time.

However, Tropical Storm Cindy left us with some very happy fruit trees. Her breezes had calmed by the time she reached Ohio so we thankfully didn’t have any wind damage. Earlier in the week as I was planting some perennials near our home orchard, I noticed the ground under the mulch was fairly dry. This concerned me since our apple trees dropped their abundant fruit on the ground ahead of harvest last year due to an extended dry spell.

While I haven’t checked since Cindy blew through, I’m guessing that a lot of that rain soaked into the ground as a treat for our trees. After a normal rain (when the ground is more saturated), we have seepage running off our banks and into the street. Even though we had rainfalls of at least an inch during previous weeks, we didn’t see a lot of the water leaving our yard this time.

Some of our plants actually seemed to double in size overnight — including the cabbage, cucumbers, and sweet potato vines (see middle photo, sweet potatoes not pictured). All of our plants looked happy and healthy just a few days later. The only pooling that I noticed was the two inches of standing water in our fire pit (see bottom photo), and even that soaked in overnight.

As you can see from the top photo, most of our garden inhabitants were still quite wet the next morning. There was water on everything. Not only were the plants showing off their bountiful caches but the fencing and siding on the house were also drop-laden. A few buckets of rocks waiting to be placed in a new garden vignette proved to me that I should have set out containers to catch all that glorious rain (see bottom photo). I don’t remember my water-resistant boots ever letting my socks get that soaked during a normal morning stint in the garden. I actually had wrinkled toes.

In our case, the five inches in 24 hours was a blessing. Other than our outdoor cats being a bit miffed, we had no negative effect. This was not the case for many of the outlying farms that we’ve seen driving around since the waters have receded.

The farmers with wheat still in the fields likely feel Cindy was more of a curse, as do those with poorly draining fields. During spring and summer rains some fields show their low spots rather obviously with ponding water. This isn’t a good thing for soybeans and corn trying to grow. After the water subsides, entire areas of beans can be plastered with mud making it hard for them to flourish (and corn hates standing in water). Though I’m not a professional farmer, I do feel for the losses that they withstand when Mother Nature decides to wield her power.

We had to take our son to the airport while Cindy was showing her prowess. Though we didn’t see a lot of problems in our travel, there was an abundance of water in the ditches, fields, and creeks along our route. A friend texted to be careful when returning home because she had to turn around due to a local creek flowing over the road. Thankfully, we were spared any detours or other trouble.

I look forward to our next rainfall due at week’s end. I’m sure by then Cindy will be but a distant memory in my garden’s mind. I’ll remain happy with an inch of rain a week, but I will take more when Mother Nature gifts it. When she doesn’t, I’ll simply pull out my rain-calling gourd and ask for more.

Photos by Blythe Pelham

Blythe Pelhamis an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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