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Ulrike DiVirgilio of Duxbury and her children Rebecca, 4, (left) and Derek, 6-1/2, walked through the Powder Point Bridge parking lot to spend time on Duxbury Beach yesterday.
Ulrike DiVirgilio of Duxbury and her children Rebecca, 4, (left) and Derek, 6-1/2, walked through the Powder Point Bridge parking lot to spend time on Duxbury Beach yesterday. (Tom Herde/ Globe Staff)

Record showers bring June glowers

If you think all this rain must have set some sort of record, it has.

As of 8 p.m. yesterday, Boston had seen 22.26 inches of rainfall in May and June, the most in a two-month period since record keeping started in 1872.

As yesterday's below-average temperatures and overall sogginess further dampened spirits, the two-month onslaught was taking a more permanent toll on the local economy as flower-growers battled water-borne plant bacteria, farmers struggled with sodden soil, and popular outdoor tourist attractions lost profits.

``This is just like in 2005, one of the worst years for floriculture in the state," said Robert Luczai , secretary for the Massachusetts Flower Growers' Association . ``We need some dry weather."

The National Weather Service is predicting a ``precipitation-free" day today, saying it will be partly sunny and humid, with highs around 80.

Kim Buttrick , a meteorologist for the service, ascribed the poor weather to a system she described as ``a frontal boundary draped across Southern New England," which is hosting warm, moist air along with waves of energy. The weather pattern has stagnated, resulting in days of rain. In addition, the temperature in Boston yesterday afternoon was 66 degrees, 13 degrees cooler than normal, because the wind was coming from the ocean.

``What we need is a good nice, dry, cool cold front to just come sweeping from Canada across Northern New England to scour out this humid and moist air," said Buttrick. ``There's no sign of that yet."

The previous record for any consecutive, two-month rainfall was set in 1955 , when Tropical Storm Dianne dumped nearly half of the 21.37 inches of rain that fell in July and August of that year. This month is the third wettest Junes on record, with 9.78 inches of rainfall as of last night, while last month was the second wettest May on record, with 12.48 inches of precipitation.

The weekend rain did not approach the emergency levels of last month's flooding downpours, said Peter Judge , spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Rivers are not overflowing, and there were only sporadic power outages over the weekend, he said.

``Fortunately we've been very lucky with this in that, although we've had a lot of rain, the real significant downpours keep moving around," said Judge. ``Although it's going to average 3 to 4 to 5 inches across the whole area, it's been off and on enough that the water really hasn't impacted even the small streams."

All this water has affected drive times, Red Sox games, and the state's flora.

Massachusetts flower growers are finding that their plants are waterlogged, developing root rot, and, in the case of the ever-popular fall chrysanthemums, becoming infected with a leaf spot bacteria carried by water, according to the Massachusetts Flower Growers' Association.

Growers are also lamenting a scarcity of buyers because Boston-area homeowners are not rushing to plant geraniums in backyards full of mud.

Some local farmers are taking a hit as well. Some Hmong farmers in Lancaster have been flooded out of producing their usual supply of bok choy for the Brookline Farmers Market, while other farmers in central Massachusetts have been forced to increase their fertilizing schedules because the rain washes away the nutrients.

Key crops such as tomatoes are slow to grow because of the poor weather, said Glenn Stillman , of New Braintree, who grows fruits and vegetables for at least six Boston-area farmers markets.

He said most other crops have yet to be flooded out by the severe rainfall , but the weather is contributing to the delay of the already short New England growing season.

``We had a great start in April because it was dry and everybody got on their fields early," said Stillman. ``But we haven't had great weather since. Now what you're seeing is delay. Like if we thought we'll pick tomatoes early, say by the Fourth of July . . . now we're saying it'll be two weeks after that."

Attendance at outdoor activities across the state has decreased.

Boston Duck Tours have seen a 6 percent decrease in customers, yesterday's Red Sox game became the fifth rainout in the two months, and Six Flags New England is seeing fewer visitors -- all because of the rain.

``It's the downpours that have really put a damper on the tour," said Boston Duck Tours general manager Cindy Brown . ``The weekend is where we're really feeling it because people might choose something indoors like the museum instead."

Until things dry up, Boston drivers might want to start memorizing the location of the city's foot-deep potholes, such as the one that detained Patricia Woodsmoore , of Mattapan, on her way to church yesterday.

Woodsmoore blew two tires while driving south on William T. Morrissey Boulevard, near the Shaw's Supermarket in Dorchester.

Flood waters made the pothole invisible, she said.

That same hole has blown out several other car tires in the past month and was just patched last week by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The department has said that heavy rains cause the potholes to worsen.

None of this made Woodsmoore feel better about her situation yesterday as she watched a work crew put orange cones on both sides of the hole, while she waited for help.

``You can't see the pothole because it's flooded," she said. ``They knew it existed. I want to cry."

Adrienne P. Samuels can be reached at Globe correspondents Emma G. Fitzsimmons and Eileen C. McSweeney contributed to this story.

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