Severe Storms, Rain Suspend US Open at Merion
June 13, 2013; 6:55 PM
Dry off, tee off, repeat. That will be the mantra for golfers, fans and grounds crew members alike as Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., hosts the 113th U.S. Open starting Thursday.
A line of strong to severe thunderstorms rolling through the area Thursday morning brought torrential rain to an already swampy East Course.
After several hours of quiet weather and a return of sunshine, another downpour can roll through toward the end of the day. While lightning can occur early Thursday evening, it appears the risk of severe thunderstorms has settled to the south of the region.
Update: Play has resumed at Merion at 12:10 p.m. Thursday, after a several-hour delay from rain and thunderstorms earlier in the day. It is estimated the first storm brought between 0.25 and 0.50 of an inch of rain. Showers and thunderstorms were approaching the area again at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
A potent storm system was responsible for the development of a complex of severe thunderstorms over the Ohio Valley Wednesday night. This complex crossed southeastern Pennsylvania Thursday morning. Another round of showers and thunderstorms are forecast for the afternoon.
Any of the storms Thursday can be locally severe with damaging wind and flooding rainfall. Seasonal warmth and an abundance of moisture will provide the fuel for the progression of these storms.
So far, June 2013 has been anomalously wet in southeastern Pennsylvania. Monday's mid-afternoon practice was suspended as a batch of heavy rain added to the 3.5 inches dumped from the remnants of Andrea last Friday. The official gauge at Philadelphia International Airport recorded 6.78 inches of rainfall since June 1. At barely halfway through the month, this is already nearly double Philadelphia's June average of 3.43 inches.
Storms on Thursday could add another 1 to 2 inches to this total. Much of this rainfall could occur in a couple of brief bursts from individual storms.
Crews have been working tirelessly to keep the course in playing condition. However, additional changes in the pace of play may be unavoidable.
Merion's sloped fairways will be significantly slowed by the soaked turf, potentially altering golfer's strategies for approaching the par 70 course.
Fans may recall that last year's AT&T National at Congressional on June 29 was disrupted by the violent winds accompanying a derecho that left the course littered with downed tree branches and other debris.
Anyone in attendance on Thursday should stay ahead of the weather and be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions.
Thursday's storms may be capable of downing trees along the course in addition to aggravating flooding which would require the grounds crew to clear the area before play can resume.
Should the grounds remain unobstructed, the weather will be much more favorable for play Friday and Saturday, providing the course some time to dry out.
There is the risk of a passing thunderstorm Friday afternoon as some moisture is flung around the back side of a departing nor'easter near the coast.
Sunday will bring the chance for an afternoon shower or thunderstorm, as contending players tee off for the championship.
Story by Heather Waldman and Edward Vallee