Thursday, August 01, 2013

Fredericton, New Brunswick, July rainfall breaks record dating back to 1870s

City received 226 mm of rain in July, compared to usual 90 mm

Posted: Jul 31, 2013 12:20 PM AT

Last Updated: Jul 31, 2013 1:42 PM AT

Fredericton had a record rainfall this month, receiving a total of 226 millimetres, which caused serious flooding in the area and cancelled several outdoor activities.

It was the wettest July since meteorologists started keeping records in the 1870s, officials say.

Normally, the area receives about 90 millimetres of rain in July.

The worst came last Friday when 119 millimetres of rain fell in the capital city. In the southwest, St. Stephen was drenched with 165 millimetres.

Several roads remain closed in Charlotte and York counties as a result of flooding from heavy rains on the weekend.

Repair work on the washed out roads started on the weekend and most roads will be useable by the end of this week, according to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The department says complete repairs to all roads will take about three weeks and cost about $750,000.

The closed roads are:
  • Routes 755, 770 and 127
  • Grove Hill Road
  • Snider Mountain Road
  • Flume Ridge Road
  • Reardon Road
  • Sorrell Ridge Road
  • Route 116 North of Chipman
  • Midland Road in Chipman
  • Adams Road near Magaguadavic
  • Route 105 south of Nackawic
Area residents and business owners whose properties sustained water damage are being urged to report the damage to Service New Brunswick.

St. Croix River running high

Meanwhile, the rainfall is still making its way into the St. Croix River. As a result, the water is flowing at a higher rate than normal for this time of year.

The St. Croix International Waterway Commission is asking paddlers, tubers and boaters of all kinds to use extreme caution around the river at this time.

“Even if you have paddled the river before, it changes completely at high flows such as we are experiencing now. This type of water makes any kind of water activity riskier,” the commission’s executive director Abby Pond said in a statement.

“When you choose to get on the river in these conditions without the proper training, equipment and experience, you are not only putting your own life in danger, but also the lives of the people who will have to come rescue you. You've got to ask yourself if the risk is worth the possible consequence."

With the sunny weather forecast for later this week, the flow should be closer to normal in time for the long weekend.

Campers brave storms

At Mactaquac provincial park, manager Neil Sandwith says despite the rainy days, there have only been a few campers who cancelled.

"I think people in New Brunswick realize that, you know, we are going to get some rain and they are going to get out and do their thing," he said.

Camper Jason Gould, who was enjoying a game of catch with his three sons on Tuesday when the sun was shining, agrees.

Rainy days are part of the camping experience, he said.

"Well obviously we are bit spoiled , we have a big trailer. So I mean, this morning it was raining here not too long ago. We got the deck of cards out and some board games, and we just sat down and played games with the kids."

Concerts cancelled

Rainstorms have put a damper on the festival season, however.
The City of Fredericton's tourism office cancelled five concerts from its outdoor series.

"We've had two or three gigs that have been cancelled and rescheduled and cancelled again because of rain," said bassist John Rosengren.

"We're now rescheduled for next Tuesday, weather permitting. And that'll be the third time we've tried to play at Nashwaaksis Commons this year," he said.

Last weekend's New Brunswick Highland Games were hammered by a storm, but organizers were prepared with tents on had, said spokeswoman Melissa Morton.

A final head count isn't out yet, but the rain didn't help, she said.

"We're not sure if some more people may have come if the weather had been nicer."
The games usually attract more than 5,000 people, she said.

The rain actually helped improve one event at the games — the Kilted 5K. It saw record attendance because the rain kept temperatures down, Morton said.

Above-average blueberry harvest expected in Maine after heavy rains

Posted Aug. 01, 2013, at 5:56 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 01, 2013, at 8:58 a.m.
CHERRYFIELD, Maine — Maine could yield an above-average harvest of wild blueberries this year, according to both the state’s leading expert on low-bush wild blueberries and to officials with a leading blueberry producer Down East.

The harvest is about to begin, and the barrens have begun turning blue as the berries ripen.
University of Maine horticulture professor David Yarborough, whose specialty is wild blueberries, was in Washington County on Wednesday, working with teams harvesting small plots of blueberries as part of a research project.

Yarborough pointed out that heavy rains soaked Washington County — the state’s leading producer of wild blueberries — fortuitously last week. “The berries seem to be really huge,” he said. “It’s amazing.”

This year’s harvest “might be better than average,” he suggested.
Two officials with Milbridge-based Jasper Wyman and Sons, which has more than 8,000 acres in blueberry production, likewise had a generally upbeat outlook for this year’s harvest.

“Everybody’s saying there’s going to be a good crop out there,” said Ellen Rossi, director of operations at Wyman’s processing plant in Cherryfield.

“This year’s crop could be above average,” company President Edward Flanagan, speaking from the company’s headquarters in Topsfield, Mass., said Tuesday.

However, Flanagan added “one great big caveat:” Growers are concerned about the risk to the harvest from the spotted wing drosophila, a fruit fly that damages blueberries.

Despite favorable growing conditions this year, the threat from the pest remains very real.
In a University of Maine Cooperative Extension blog for blueberry producers, Yarborough said the insect has been captured in traps in all blueberry growing regions, “indicating that reproduction is occurring and fruit infestation is taking place.”

The flies puncture a blueberry and lay eggs, Yarborough explained. Then the hatched larvae consume the fruit. A new generation can be produced in as little as 10 to 14 days, with each insect laying 300 eggs.

Yarborough recalled a grower last year who lost 2,000 pounds of blueberries on 1 acre because of damage caused by the fly.

“It’s a real problem,” he said, but growers can set traps to monitor for the pest, and they can treat the bushes with insecticides to control the fly. The crop must be protected from the insect, he said. Growers also may begin the harvest early to contain damage.

His company was “monitoring very carefully” for the insect, said Flanagan. “We haven’t seen them in a serious way, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to.”
Nevertheless, Yarborough was optimistic about the pending harvest.

“The berries look very good,” he said. They have good size, thanks to good pollination earlier and plenty of moisture. The two factors “are key to good-quality, large blueberries,” said Yarborough, who was collecting blueberries from sites in Washington and Hancock counties this week as part of the research project. The $1 million, four-year study, now in its final year, will compare organic growing methods as well as varying levels of management practices and look at impacts on the environment.

“Growing weather has been pretty good,” said Flanagan, whose company is the leading marketer of U.S. blueberries.

“Certainly, we don’t lack for water,” he added. “That’s been good.” Blueberries are 89 percent water, he said, “so you’ve got to have water.”

Maine’s wild blueberry harvest averages 86 million pounds annually, according to Yarborough, who said growers were expected to begin harvesting operations Saturday or possibly Monday.

Last year’s production was 91.1 million pounds, which fetched an average price of 76 cents per pound, or a total of $69.2 million. In the previous five years, production ranged from 76.3 million to 89.9 million pounds, and average prices ranged from 35 cents to $1.07 per pound.

Washington County is Maine’s leading producer of wild blueberries, contributing to about 80 percent of the state’s production, according to Yarborough. Hancock County is second.