Rain. Showers. More cloudy skies. Yes, they’re in the forecast again.
Boston has been having a terrible spring, with brief breaks in which the sun appeared and got everyone’s hopes up (they have now been deflated once again).
The drizzling, overcast weather is causing a cascade of complications: Little League coaches are up to their knees in mud on the field, trying to dry out the grass before the next game. The Greenway Carousel, with its cheery neon lights and its giant butterfly seat, stopped in its tracks multiple times in the past few weeks because of the deluge. Street festivals, chalk exhibits, outdoor movie nights have been canceled.
In April it rained for 21 days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, setting a record for the rainiest month ever recorded in the city in terms of the number of rainy days. (The closest contender was 19 days of rain in 1912.) So far, there have been seven rainy days in May. The past year, in fact, was the wettest one on record nationwide (that measure is in inches, not days.)
And after a beautiful Saturday, Sunday brought another downpour, pelting everyone from families at the Duckling Day parade in the Public Garden to umbrella-wielding flower lovers venturing out to Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum.
Walking around the city during the brief glimpses of sun last week was like seeing a live version of that Ray Bradbury short story about a planet where the sun only emerges for two hours every seven years. How would the creatures choose to spend their few moments of light?
Kyle Malloy and his coworkers had ventured forth from their downtown office to buy lunch at a food truck under the fleeting sun. They were bitter about the recent weather.
“It feels like we’re getting cheated out of spring,” Malloy said. His fellow engineers agreed. Morale at the office was low, they said, adding that their picnic that day was a departure from their recent routine. They had been scuttling across the street to grab lunch and eating their foraged food huddled indoors.
Alaina Manning, who lives in Walpole, had chosen to spend her moment in the sun eating noodles on the Greenway as her two children, ages 3 and 5, raced ecstatically on the grass in front of her.
“It just feels like it’s been raining nonstop. It’s brutal,” Manning said, as her son, James, jiggled a giant multicolored stuffed squid in her face. “They go down easier at nighttime when they’ve been running around outside.”
It’s not like kids can just go play sports to get their energy out. The East Boston Little League, for children ages 6 to 12, typically plays at the Al Festa Field, but drainage there is so bad that teams can’t play even the day after a rainstorm. The Regan Youth League in Jamaica Plain sometimes plays at Johnson Field, which is turning into a version of the Great Lakes.
“This weather has meant we are canceling or postponing or rescheduling almost every day,” said Jodi Sugerman-Brozan, the Regan Youth League president.
It’s more expensive for teams to operate in all this rain, too: The league has to buy drying agents for the field, pay umpires for canceled games, and run through a dozen muddy balls when they finally get to play.
“Not to mention, there’s a lot of really sad kids,” Sugerman-Brozan said, adding that her 15-year-old had been training all winter to play freshman baseball at Boston Latin, but rain had canceled two thirds of the games so far.
The annual Mayfair in Harvard Square, a huge street festival with music, food, and art vendors had to be postponed from Ma y 5 to May 19 because of the gloomy weather.
“Not many people want to sit around on a dismal, gray, 50-degree day with drizzling rain in the air, drinking cold beer,” said Denise Jillson, the executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, which puts on the festival.
An outdoor movie screening hosted by Union Square Main Streets also had to be postponed for more favorable weather. The SoWa open market was supposed to open on May 5, but it was canceled.
“The spring showers won,” the organizers wrote on Facebook.
Most people don’t want to shop in the rain, either, according to a nonscientific but meticulous data set collected by Adam Hirsch, owner of the Curious George toy store in Harvard Square. For about five years Hirsch kept a tally of how the weather affected his sales (he no longer does; maybe it’s too depressing in a season like this one.) In an Excel spreadsheet he noted the sales for the day, as well as the temperature and any anomalous weather: If there was a snowstorm, he detailed how many inches; if there was rain, he labeled it “light” or “heavy.”
The study’s conclusion? “Any type of weather adversely affects us,” he said.
The food trucks notice, too: Workers at North East of the Border, which sells tacos, and Hometown Poké, both of which park in the Rowes Wharf Plaza, said sales are lower when it’s wet out.
If the weather has your spirits down, perhaps it will make you feel better to know that the persistent rain is not a fluke, but instead a human-caused catastrophe related to climate change.
“Overall, we’re changing the large-scale climate patterns, which is affecting our local weather,” said Ellen Douglas, a professor of hydrology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The warming climate, she said, means that we’re getting more moisture from the tropics, which has fed the storms this spring. She added that climate change means more extreme fluctuations in the weather more frequently.
There is, however, one group of city dwellers that don’t mind the postponements, the dreary days inside, the canceled spring festivals — that are, in fact, enjoying the endless showers.
As Suzanne Maas, the executive director of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, explained, “The plants and the trees and the rivers are really, really happy.”