Spring Weather Report
Rainy with a chance of joint pain
The first printed reference to April showers bringing May flowers dates back to 1860 in a collection songs, ballads and short poems edited by Thomas Wright: “Aprell sylver showers so sweet, Can make May flowers to sprynge.” As it turns out, April showers can bring a host of other benefits besides ushering in the arrival of calla lilies, daffodils, lilacs and peonies.
- Higher aquifer levels. The Floridan aquifer provides billions of gallons of water each year to Jacksonville. The water that comes from underground aquifers, however, is limited and must be refreshed by rainfall. Of course aquifer levels could also be helped by obsessive car washers putting down their hoses (note to my neighbor: It doesn’t matter how shiny it is, it’s still a Ford Fiesta.)
- Adorable footwear. Typically, the only folks seen walking around in rubber boots are firefighters, janitors and the cast of "Deadliest Catch," but just the slightest sprinkle also gives fashionistas an excuse to slip on splash boots (even the name is adorable!) decorated with polka dots, flowers or lady bugs.
- Abundance of mushrooms. Moisture disperses the spread of mushroom spores which makes them sprout and spread, which is great news for fans of the morel, portobella and cremini. Not so much for mycophobics, however.
- Crime reduction. A major study conducted by the Daily Record and Standard Mail found that reported crimes decreased by nearly 25 percent on the rainest days. Violent crime, in particular, fell almost 45 percent. The report did not specify the effect of rain on splash boot pilfering.
- Better fishing. When the weather is warm, rain affects the temperature on the water surface which tends to bring fish up. Anglers, especially those using top water lures, swear fishing just after a healthy rain fall is one of the best times to drop their bait.
- Changes in pollen count. Allergy suffers may experience some relief with increased rain washing pollen from the air. Then again, springtime rain speeds up grass growth which can produce more pollen too. Actually, let's call this one a wash.
But April showers don’t only bring sunshine and roses. Literally.
- Increased tornados and flooding. Without going all Tim Deegan on you, precipitation plays a major role in the development of tornadoes. Supercells, descending air, rear flank downdraft, rotating mesocyclones, blah-blah-blah. That said, May has the highest average tornado frequency (1991–2010) in the U.S. with Florida producing 66 twisters per year (making it third only to Texas and Kansas), assuming you believe the National Climatic Data Center. As for rain’s relationship with flooding, you don’t need to be a meteorologist to figure out that cause and effect relationship.
- More mosquitoes. In as few as three days, rain can transform larva into hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes. More than just pests, mosquitoes carry diseases like malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and encephalitis, as well as West Nile disease of which 65 cases were reported in Florida in 2012. Better start DEET-ing it up, people.
- Event cancellations. Rain causes the scrubbing of numerous special events each year (ex. the recent Great Atlantic Seafood Festival and Navy-Marine Corps basketball Classic between the University of Florida and Georgetown University on the USS Bataan), Jacksonville Suns games and who knows how many picnics in Memorial Park. Weddings typically still go on with everyone trying to convince the bride that rain on her wedding day is supposed to be good luck.
- Weather-related aches and pains. Drops in barometric air pressure, which tend to occur before rain, can increase pain caused by a variety of conditions and disorders including arthritis, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome, and trigger headaches, especially migraines.
- Rise of auto accidents. There is no shortage of bad drivers in Jacksonville. Toss in slick roads and decreased visibility, not to mention bald tires and wonky windshield wipers, and it becomes downright dangerous. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration reported 707,000 rain-related crashes resulting in 330,200 injuries and 3,300 deaths.
- Never-ending TV weather reports. There's a saying in the news business: "If it bleeds, it leads." But in these parts, weather is the star of local broadcasts. If the meteorologist isn't on air talking about the current rain, the rain that just happened or the rain that's on its way, anchors are chatting about it and teasing it before commercial breaks. That said, I would not recommend any drinking games involving the use of "first alert weather," "interactive radar" or "live Doppler" unless, of course, you want to get, ahem, sloshed.