The Rapp for May 11

From drought to deluge

When in drought, as the saying goes, never pray for a lighter rain. Instead, ask for a better umbrella.

Perhaps the drought has finally ended.

During one 12-hour period Friday afternoon and evening in the town of Washington, 4.11 inches of rain was recorded mainly from two blinding downpours.

That impressive total doesn’t even include the heavy steadier rain that fell from 6 p.m. Thursday through mid-morning Friday, causing widespread flooding — and water rescues — throughout Rappahannock County.

Sperryville officially recorded 4.97 inches of rain during the height of the storm Thursday night into Friday, although additional amounts were still being tallied from subsequent heavy squalls. Plus another two-tenths of an inch of rain fell Saturday on the village and there were rain showers Sunday as well.

With all that moisture in such a short period of time, the anticipated flooding occurred throughout the county, including in Laurel Mills on Friday morning where a daring water rescue took place.

James ‘Pete’ Nicholson of Castleton tied himself to a rope to rescue a woman and her dog stuck in their car (seen in background) overtaken by flood waters. Facebook photo from Rappahannock County Sheriff's Office

According to the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Facebook site, authorities were notified that a car was in the water and “sinking” near the intersection of Richmond and Laurel Mills roads.

“Caller advised there was a female inside the car and that the car was sinking,” said the posting, and Fire & Rescue were dispatched from Washington, Amissville and Castleton.

But James “Pete” Nicholson of Castleton, who was en route to the Laurel Mills store, happened upon the scene first and according to the sheriff’s office “tied himself to a rope and tied the rope to his truck and waded out to the car to rescue the female and her dog.”

A landscaper with Cedar Hill Services, Nicholson told this newspaper’s Chris Green that he luckily had a 200 foot rope curled up in the bed of his pickup truck that he keeps to climb trees.

Nicholson said he waded into the rapidly rising waters, nearing 4 feet deep, and as Green reports “came upon the South Wales woman, in extreme distress, tears flowing and clutching her cocker spaniel. The water had risen rapidly and now covered her lap.

“He tells me that he opened the passenger side door, she clambered over and he pulled her out. He went to grab the dog and she mentioned, ‘Oh he might bite!’ Pete looked at her with a smile and twinkle in his eye saying, ‘Honey, I don’t think he’s going to bite me today.’ Indeed the cocker spaniel practically leapt into Pete’s outstretched arms.”

Obviously this life-saving reminder from the sheriff’s office needs repeating: “Please DO NOT drive into HIGH WATER.”

As far as the drought goes, we spoke to Mike Muccili, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling. He said that prior to this past weekend’s deluge, Rappahannock County was still plagued by “moderate drought.”

“But I would expect some marked improvement from the significant rain we just received,” said Muccili, adding that the official drought monitor wouldn’t be updated until later this week.

And in keeping with the wacky unpredictable weather by Tuesday morning there was a frost advisory in effect, with the temperature in the town of Washington dipping to a chilly 33 degrees.

Hey Milky Way

RLEP President Rick Kohler points to a print of the extinct Passenger Pingeon, hoping the dark skies of Rappahannock County don’t similarly disappear. Photo by John McCaslin

As Rick Kohler observes, “Rappahannock County is one of the few places left on the East Coast where you can still see the Milky Way.”

The hope is it will remain that way, but with urban sprawl creeping ever so closer to the Rappahannock County line the pressure is on.

“We’ve lost the horizon,” admits the president of the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP), referring to the horizon’s ever-present light pollution from Warrenton, Culpeper and Front Royal, “but we haven’t lost the sky.”

For county residents who want to learn more about the Milky Way — and weather permitting get a close-up look at the galaxy that contains our solar system — now is your chance.

The RLEP is presenting an engaging, must-see presentation about our amazing universe and the Milky Way galaxy by NASA Solar System Ambassador Greg Redfern on Saturday, May 27 (Memorial Day weekend) at 7 p.m. at the Castleton Festival Theatre.

Following the colorful, fun-filled lecture, Redfern, who Kohler describes as “entertaining and energetic,” will lead an outdoor viewing of our unique night sky using telescopes and laser pointers.

“By the time the presentation is over it will be dark, and there will be no moon, so if it is clear we will be seeing the stars,” says Kohler.

And get this: admission to the “family-oriented” evening is free (seating is limited, so hurry and make reservations by RSVPing to

Three Blacksmiths

“Big Day today,” John MacPherson posted this week on Instagram, “Diane and I closed on 20 Main Street this morning and picked up the keys to what will be Three Blacksmiths.”

The former longtime proprietors of the Foster Harris House in Washington say their new 16 seat Sperryville restaurant will be “serving a fixed weekly menu of local, seasonal handcrafted foods.”

The MacPhersons say they look forward to being “good neighbors to the folks in Sperryville” and are “excited to get to work renovating the building and eventually cooking again.”

We second Saturday

Courtesy image

Here’s what you’ll find on this Second Saturday, May 13, on the Rappahannock County’s Artisan Trail:

De’Danann Glassworks Trail site #4: Artist —Patricia Brennan (23 Spyder Mountain Lane, Sperryville). “Make a Stepping Stone” for your garden. Fun for any age. Fee: $30.00 All materials included.

Gadino Cellars Trail Site # 56  (92 School House Road, Washington). “Gadino Olive Oil Tasting” Wine tasting $8, olive oil tasting complimentary. Time:11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Gray Ghost Winery Trail Site # 58 – (4706 Lee Highway, Amissville). Two days of Live Music at Gray Ghost! Treat your Mom to a relaxing afternoon with live music. Wine tastings only $5 per person, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Middle Street Gallery  (31 Main Street, Sperryville). “Wayne Paige Solo Exhibition”, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Old Rag Gallery in RDA at Ginger Hill  Trail Site # 46  (12625 Lee Highway, Washington). “Photo Copies of Your Art”. $15 for one piece, or $40 for three pieces, noon to 4 p.m.

Rappahannock Cellars Trail Site # 63: (14437 Hume Rd, Huntly.) Experience the latest release of Vx2 white wine 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Ridge Line Designs, LLC, Trail Site # 33  Artist — Gina Irwin, (10 River Lane, Sperryville). Celebrate Mother With Jewelry”, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks at Blue Ridge Artisans Trail Site #106: Artist Jennifer Heverly (12018 B Lee Highway, Sperryville). “Second Saturday Fair Isle Knitting”, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Free concert May 21

Rappahannock violist Al Regnery (far left) and several other members of the the Madison Chamber Players are performing Mozart and Dvorak May 21, at Little Washington Theatre. Courtesy photo


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