But the dry months have caused a significant decrease in hay production for local ranchers and farmers.
“We’ve already had 33.29 inches of rain this year, up to today,” said Carrollton Assistant City Manager Tim Grizzard. “We had only 31.6 inches all year in 2007. November and December are historically heavy rain months, so we expect several more inches of rain before the end of the year.”
Total rainfall in 2010 was 45.98 inches and last year, it was 46.89 inches.
Rainfall data recorded by the city of Carrollton, show two extremely dry months this year, when monthly rainfall levels dipped below an inch. In April, only 0.68 inches of rain fell, and only 0.67 inches in June. But rainfall in other months has been well above average.
In March, 5.56 inches of rain fell and May, July and August all had levels above 3.5 inches. During this month, 3.8 inches have already fallen, with seven more days remaining in the month.
Grizzard said all three city reservoirs are down some, but not to a level to raise concern.
“We could make it through the better part of a year, with no rain at all, with our current level of usage,” he said. “We have nearly two billion gallons of storage capacity.”
Matt Windom, executive director of the Carroll County Water Authority, reported similar conditions at the county’s Snake Creek reservoir.
“It’s certainly been drier than usual this year,” Windom said. “We’ve recorded a total of about 35 inches of rain at the reservoir site and we usually average about 49 inches each year. It will take us about 14 more inches to catch up.”
He said the reservoir level has fallen about six feet below normal pool, and although it’s a little lower than last year, it’s still in a normal range for this time of year.
“We bottomed out last year at about four feet below normal pool,” he said. “Then with rains in the winter and early spring, the reservoir was up to two feet above normal by March.”
Windom said he expects a similar increase in rain going into the winter season, with usual averages of about 10 inches in November and December.
“Even at current levels, we still have more than a year’s worth of water stored,” he said. “We expect it to fill up over the next four or five months.”
Carroll County Extension Coordinator Paula Burke said rainfall conditions have improved for farmers since this summer.
“Mostly what local farmers have seen is a lower hay crop yield,” Burke said. “Some may have had a couple of cuttings, but without enough rainfall in between. Their total amount of hay is down.”
She said none of Carroll County’s farmers have gone to irrigation yet, as is being seen in eastern Alabama, but at least one farmer she has talked with is considering it.
“Grasses are just not growing,” Burke said. “That leads to issues with livestock, but it’s better than it was this summer.”
Carroll County is currently listed in the “severe” drought range, with two levels, “extreme” and “exceptional,” being higher. The drought did reach the extreme level in Carroll County this summer.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture designated Carroll County as a natural disaster area in August, making local farmers and ranchers eligible for low interest emergency loans.
Chuck Joiner, president of the Carroll County Cattlemen’s Association, said in July that ranchers had gotten one cutting of hay, but summer heat and drought has slowed down growth. Ranchers also suffered from higher feed prices due to smaller corn crops in the Midwest.
Carroll County ranks second in the state in cattle production, with between 23,000 and 25,000 head of cattle on 641 farms, according to the 2007 Agriculture Census.