Once a big rain event occurs — you may call it a “downpour” or a “major storm” — there are many factors that will dictate how fast your baseball or softball field will be ready to resume play. But here is the somewhat shocking truth: every situation is different and that can greatly skew the time needed for recovery — making things either harder or easier. The factors that most commonly affect how fast a field can recover include:
- The infield’s condition going into the rain event (dragged smooth? chewed-up from cleats?)
- Soil makeup of the infield skin and soil stability
- Whether the infield skin is top-dressed or not
- Intensity and length of time rain occurred
- Amount of rain that fell
- The weather expected over the next 3 to 6 hours:
- sky conditions
- humidity levels and trend
- wind speed and direction
- chances for additional precipitation
Perhaps the most important factor mentioned above is humidity levels and their trends. In order for a field to improve, it needs to dry and for the soil to dry, moisture will need to evaporate out of the soil.
If humidity levels are high (above 75%), there is little room in the parcels of air floating over the field to absorb moisture out of the ground. Once humidity levels drop to 60% or lower, you can expect to see more rapid improvement, especially if you have the sun and wind working in concert with the lower humidity. If your humidity stays high, the sun and wind can help in a very small way, but progress will be very slow.
There simply must be room in the air itself to absorb that moisture.