updated 10/20/2006 1:40:14 PM ET 2006-10-20T17:40:14

New York residents who spent the summer sloshing through puddles won't be surprised to learn the last four months were the rainiest in decades for the period.

Average precipitation statewide for June through September was 21.3 inches, according to data from the Northeast Regional Climate Center. That's the highest average for that four-month period since at least 1971. Monthly statewide averages ranged from 7.3 inches in June to 4.2 inches in August.

The four-month period included the late June deluge that caused massive flooding and destruction from Binghamton to the Catskills to the Mohawk Valley. But that storm, which forced the evacuation of thousands, came during a particularly rainy spell in New York.

In September, remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto flooded parts of the New York City region, cutting power to 250,000 and washing away beaches. And heavy rains near Syracuse in mid-July ripped a 30-foot hole in a state highway.

The four-month period does not include the snowstorm that buried Buffalo under two feet of snow last week.

Some rainy spells can be traced to large-scale weather patterns, but Keith Eggleston, a climatologist at the Cornell University-based weather center, said that was not the case in New York this summer.

"We can't chalk it up to El Nino or anything like that, it just happened to be a very wet period," Eggleston said. He said it's unclear if wet weather will continue.

Most areas of the state averaged more than 20 inches of precipitation over the four months: 22.4 inches in southwestern New York, 25.3 inches in the area from Binghamton to the Hudson River, 20.4 inches in parts of the Adirondacks, 20.8 inches on Long Island and New York City, 20.8 inches in the Hudson Valley, 23.8 inches in the Mohawk Valley, 20.12 inches by the Great Lakes, 20.87 inches around the Finger Lakes.

Northernmost regions of the state saw the least rain. Areas west of Lake Champlain had 17.36 inches, and 15.8 inches fell south of the Canadian border.

While the wet summer was bad for sunbathers and picnickers, not everyone disliked it.

Brookfield Power, which runs 72 hydropower plants in New York, took advantage of heavy rains to save more water in upstream lakes and reservoirs for use in December, when power demands are heavy, said Dave Youlen, vice president for New York operations.

"People don't like the weather, but rainfall for hydro producers is very good, and good for the consumer," he said.

Farmers liked the rain too — at least to a point.

"With the rain that we had this summer, the apples continued to grow," said Mark Lagoner of Lagoner Farms in Williamson, east of Rochester. But Lagoner added that the rain was tough on his vegetable crops, causing mildew problems with his pumpkins.

And he said the rain is idling his picking crews, ruining his chance of getting his crop in by the end of the month.

"The rain we're having now during harvest is really causing us fits."

The Associated Press looked at state precipitation records back to 1971. The climate center uses data from 1971-2000 to calculate "normal" 30-year averages.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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