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Rainy season

May 19, 2017
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral , Cape Coral Daily Breeze


According to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, 2016 was the third consecutive record-setting year for hottest global annual temperature. Also, we are now in a historically dry season.

Our needed rainy season usually starts with the hurricane season in June, but we did have an early pre-hurricane season storm, Arlene, a tropical storm on April 6, 2017. Hurricane season is listed as running from June 1 to Nov. 30.

We have been in a high fire danger alert with fires starting all around us. The heat temperatures of over 90s are plaguing us. Smoke has filled our nostrils, so any rain is very welcome.

The NBC-2 First Alert Storm Tracking Team analyzed a few key variables needed for a "scattered showers" determination in Southwest Florida. First, we need the dew point temperatures of low to mid-70s; lately ours have been close to 60-65, not near enough to signal any onset of a rainy season. The dew points are creeping up and should arrive in the 70s this weekend.

The second variable needed is the presence of a sea breeze because it creates the uplift needed to get the storms going. The strength of the sea breezes depends on the temperature differences between the Gulf of Mexico and the mainland.

The third and final variable we need to consider is how far south cold fronts travel this time of year. They bring shots of dry air, making it difficult for rain to develop. The jet-streams are now re-positioning themselves to keep those cold fronts north of us. Forecasts predict these cold fronts will not likely make it to Southwest Florida through the end of the month, the final variable falls into place. Thus, we are having, that magical phrase, scattered afternoon storms, great for adding moisture to our dry, thirsty, burning landscapes. Two more weeks and June will be busting out all over. Hopefully, few hurricanes but lovely rainstorms.

Hurricane names are selected by the World Meteorological Organization. There are lists to cover six years. Then they repeat the names. Especially destructive hurricanes have their names retired and a new one designated.

Native Americans called them Hurakons after their great spirit that commanded the east wind. Spanish explorers adopted that word and started naming them after their patron saints on whose days they fell near. Later they were identified by their longitude and latitude. A weatherman in Australia is credited with giving them female names. By World War ll, meteorologists in the U.S. military named them after their wives and girlfriends. Now they are given male and female names to be unbiased. The first male hurricane was named Bob.

This year in our Atlantic Basin (Miami hurricanes), we will possibly meet, with Arlene already spent, Brett, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Phillippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney. Fortunately, the forecast is for a mild and safe year.

It's a good time to plant with nearly automatic watering, but the heat and heavy humidity prevents anything but summer heat plants. If you are needing to reinforce a lawn, sowing seeds on a cleared, raked space is now best. Watch out for cinch bugs. I found out the hard way that heat-loving herbs like rosemary don't want to sit in water, so potted plants will work. Container gardening is how I garden now because I usually forget to water potted plants during the dry times. Cherry-type tomatoes are the best to grow; big heavy tomatoes don't flourish because pollination doesn't happen.

The big thing to do is hurricane preparedness. Clip weak and dead branches on trees and shrubs to keep them from becoming projectiles. Eliminate anything that will hold water and the pesky mosquitoes.

There are more and newer disease bearing critters out there. The Oleander caterpillar moth resembles more of a polka dotted wasp. Be sure you have the right caterpillar when eliminating it. Their caterpillar so closely resembles the Gulf Fritillary butterflies, which is orange with silvery spots under its butterfly wings. A delightful butterfly to watch flitting around. Fertilize now, before the June to November ban. The rains will be leaching it away, so plants need a good start before the rains.

A penny for your thoughts is appropriate here, as I read about copper pennies being planted in the garden or used bowling balls being covered with them and set into the gardens, to ward off slugs and snails. The key to remember is to use only pennies printed before 1983, because they were changed to eliminate the copper after that time. The slime of the slugs and snails counter-act with the copper. They supposedly receive a small electric shock. The green patina that develops over time on copper is a copper carbonate salt and can be toxic. Whether or not, this is a garden myth to be debated. There are copper wires and strips that can be utilized also, but the balls are attractive additives to your garden.

Remember, trees are our best friends, supplying oxygen, using up carbon dioxide thereby giving us fresh clean air to breathe, cooling us in their shade, some giving fruits and nuts as food, providing timber with which to build shelters and more.

Thank a tree, even give it a hug.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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