CHARLOTTE, N.C. — So if you are like me, it feels like this winter has been one continuous cloudy day with rain. If that's not you, then you likely noticed how wet your yard is. The joke around here is, thank goodness we are getting more rain because my mud was dehydrating. While rainfall has played a big part, we are only about 2.15" above average this winter so far. So wet, but a lot less than the past 2 winters when we were 7-8" above average. So what gives?
#1 winter means dormant vegetation. Your lawn, trees, and plants are either all dormant or no growing right now at all. So they aren't using any water. Your lawn alone would be using about 1" of rainfall a week in the growing season. Trees use even more, but they also help evaporation when all their leaves are present and help slow the rain down and give a larger surface area for evaporation. The trees and plants are actually about 5-10 days behind schedule compared to being a month early last year at this time.
#2 lack of sunshine and not just due to clouds literally fewer hours of sunshine. In the winter, we have about 2-4 hours less daylight than in the summer.
#3 When there is sunshine, the sun angle is lower, so less direct sunlight hitting your mud to dry it out.
#4 Cooler temperatures, while this winter is still slightly above average by about 0.6 degrees. Compared to the past 5 winters, it's not even close. The past 5 winters in Charlotte have averaged about 4.4 degrees above average. Warmer air creates higher evaporation rates.
So combine above-average rainfall, cool temperatures, lack of sunshine, and dormant vegetation, and you get saturated soils. Now once things start growing and warming up, things will dry out very, very fast!