Wednesday, January 22, 2020
US flag

It’s been a rainy July

Bad news for the environment: historic rainfall totals, not just in Baltimore but all along the East Coast, have caused flooding and a significant increase in the level of pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, the Baltimore Sun reports.


(NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce)

In the graphical analysis above, meteorologists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, show rainfall totals during the period July 19–26. The highest totals were over the Outer Banks, in central Maryland, and in central Pennsylvania. Shown in purple are areas where more than 180 mm (about 7 inches) of rain fell in those seven days.

BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport reported 4.79 inches of rain on just July 21 and 4.07 inches on July 24. A stalled weather pattern led to persistent showers and thunderstorms moving up the eastern seaboard during the week of July 22, resulting in significant rainfall amounts and numerous flood warnings.

According to an article from the Bay Journal, republished on Maryland Reporter.com, oxygen levels and submerged aquatic vegetation in the Chesapeake Bay were recovering nicely. But the flooding and increased runoff of pollution these latest rains have brought—July was the second-wettest month ever for many areas inside the Chesapeake Bay watershed—could be a setback that takes months to fully measure or analyze.

A recent report from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of the Environment examined the impact of excessive flooding from the Susquehanna River on the Chesapeake Bay during storms like the latest deluge.

Storms, the report concludes, have “adverse impacts to water quality, habitat, and living resources.” Potential impacts of freshwater surging into the Bay include:

  • Large freshwater flows can lead to long periods of low-salinity water that could kill oysters, particularly in the Upper Bay.
  • Sediment associated with high flows can bury oyster reefs and bottom-dwelling organisms.
  • Sediment and nutrient-fueled algae blooms block sunlight from reaching underwater grasses, which could devastate grass beds, whose acreages hit record highs last year.
  • Nutrients accompanying the flows could fuel expanded algae blooms during the second half of the summer.
  • Oxygen-starved “dead zones” in deep areas of the Bay could worsen as that algae die, sink to the bottom, and decompose in a process that depletes oxygen.
  • In some places, high flows could flush juvenile fish out of optimal nursery habitats.
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.

Md. & IL bands perform on New Year’s in...

Bands from IL and Md. once again entertained thousands of people who lined the streets of London and Rome on New Year's Day.

Howard Co. sounds an under-staffing alarm

Teachers in a Md. district have filed a grievance over missing planning and lunch periods and, as a result, putting the most vulnerable students at risk.

Top 11 school stories of 2019

We find these 11 stories to have the greatest potential for influencing activity and direction in schools for the near future.

Girls’ volleyball champs in Illinois

We congratulate the Illinois state champions in girls' volleyball: Newark, St Teresa, Sterling, & Benet Academy.

A weekend of ‘band geeks’ across America

The musical Band Geeks was in performance at a MD high school, just as marching bands from across America named a national champion.

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.

Loan forgiveness gains some bipartisan support

One Republican from GA, who used to work under Betsy DeVos at the US Education Dept, offers a plan to forgive some student loan debt.