School daze. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation(CBF) recently issued it biannual State of the Bay Report. The report can be found here. The CBF assigns both a numeric and letter grade to the bay. This report (2017 – 2018) garners a score of 33 for a grade of D+. The last report (2015 – 2016) tallied a 34 / C-. The grading scale is as follows
40 or below – dangerously out of balance
41 – 50 – improving
51 – 70 – stable
71+ – saved
The first State of the Bay Report was issued in 1998 and Bhe bay received a “grade” of 27. Progress was slow but steady through 2016. The recently issued report (2018) represents a rare regression in overall score since the report was started.
Rain, rain, go away. An extremely wet 2018 is primarily to blame for the regression in the bay’s health. And wet it was. DC’s official recording site at Reagan National Airport ended up with 66.28″ of rain, which broke the previous record of 61.33″ from 1889. This total is over 2 feet above DC’s annual average of 39.74″, and is nearly as much rain as the previous 2 years combined of 67.3″ (2016 + 2017). Baltimore’s BWI Airport recorded 71.82″ of rain against an annual average of 43.62″. That was the wettest year on record and the weather book dates back to 1871. The runoff from all that rain caused significant regressions in nitrogen (-5), phosphorus (-9) and water clarity (-4) from the prior report. One ray of sunshine in the report was the fact that underwater grasses notched a small gain from 2015-2016 despite the deluges. Continue reading