This can't be summer in Baltimore Soggy July: Green grass, lush crops, breathable air, modest humidity? What gives?

August 04, 1996

OLD MAN WEATHER must be so annoyed that our friends at the National Weather Service bureau at Baltimore-Washington International Airport are being displaced by technology, he's playing games with the atmosphere.

What else could explain a summer in Maryland where the grass remains green into August and the clean air around Baltimore doesn't turn to smog?

We have just weathered one of the Free State's wettest Julys -- after record cold in May and the snowiest winter by nearly a foot. Not to mention a couple of hurricane scares on the beach and a twister that flattened a suburban neighborhood in Carroll County.) The explanation for this run of extremes: El Nino? The Antarctic ozone hole? We'll stick with the ornery Old Man Weather theory.

We're not complaining, though. Crops are flourishing. Environmental officials have tallied but three "bad air" days this summer, compared with 10 at this point last summer. Homeowners have had an easier time keeping their yards lush, and working outdoors hasn't been as deadly oppressive as usual. Even Baltimore's annual Artscape celebration enjoyed an incredibly comfortable weekend last month, attracting record crowds. And for an added blessing, the precipitation has been confined mostly to the workweek.

Of course, that hasn't curtailed whining about the wetness, small crabs, Orioles' rain delays, postponed swim meets and softball games, and the mosquito barrage. After grumbling so long about the customary heat and humidity, Marylanders don't seem enamored of the alternative. This atypical summer on the Chesapeake might not confirm global warming, but it does bolster our hypothesis that human sustenance relies on air, water, food -- and the ability to complain about the weather.

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