Rains might spare Merion

With the soils around here approaching saturation levels, the Merion Golf Club and the rest of region might catch a much-welcomed break this afternoon.

A line of showers is pressing eastward, extending from New York State to Maryland, but right now the bulk of the action looks to stay to the north, and the immediate Philadelphia could be rain-free this afternoon, said Gary Szatkowski, the meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

The next big concern is Thursday, when 1 to 2 inches of additional rain is possible, Szatkowski said. If that happens, that could raise significant flooding issues.

The region has been spared catastrophic flooding, despite close to 6 inches of rains over a four-day period that set rainfall records on Friday and Monday.

Stream and river levels are not that impressive. For example, the Schuiylkill at Norristown was near 11 feet late this morning, according ot the U.S. Geological Survey; flood stage is 17. The Neshaminy at Langhorne was at 7.6, or 2.4 below flood stage, and the Perkiomen at Schwenksville was at 7 feet, 2.44 beneath flood stage.

Szatkowski cited a couple of reasons for the good fortune.

The heavy rains for the most part have spared the Delaware, Schuylkill, and Lehigh headwaters.

Rainfall had been below normal from February through May. In fact, the rain that has fallen since Friday exceeded the total for the entire March 18-May 31 period.

And the foliage, meanwhile, has been lush and thirsty. "This time of year, the vegetation is very good at sucking this stuff up," he said.

But he warns that the thirst of the foliage if finite.

"Even mother nature can drink only so much from that straw," he said. All in all, the region has experienced quite a dramatic turnabout in its precipitation situation.

"We are more vulnerable now than we were seven to 10 days ago," he said. "My grass was getting kind of brown. Now I think I could grow rice on it."