Each Thursday we receive an update to the “Drought Monitor” – the updated status of ongoing drought areas across the nation, as determined by a University/Government consortium. Though we received some rain earlier this week – and it was taken into account for this week’s Drought Monitor update – the fraction of an inch simply wasn’t enough to make a noticeable difference. In fact, extreme drought has expanded noticeably farther northeast through Maine in this week’s update.
So, how does this stack up in history? First, in nearly all areas this pales in comparison to the drought of 1961-69…the worst in New England’s recorded history and the result of dry summers and winters, back-to-back. Having said that, our current situation in New England is surely still noteworthy, ranking among the worst in the 16 year history of the Drought Monitor, which began in 2000. More specifically, Massachusetts holds at 52% of the Commonwealth in extreme drought this week - continues as the worst in 16 year drought monitor database. With 19.3% of the Granite State in extreme drought, NH also is at the worst extent of this drought status in 16yr drought monitor database. Interestingly, even dramatic expansion of extreme drought in Maine means about 8% of the state in extreme drought, ranking #16 since 2000. Worth noting, these "rankings" are out of the *weekly* status updates since 2000, not individual drought *events*. Grouped by event, Maine currently ranks second in the 16 year database, only behind the drought of '01-'02, and of course, this doesn’t include the drought of the 60s, mentioned above.
Bottom line: we are still, as a region, in desperate need of rain. Though the upcoming weekend will deliver some rain, highest amounts will focus on Southern New England, and may nearly pass over parts of the North Country…good news for leaf peepers but not for the drought status. We’re watching Tropical Storm Matthew in the Tropical Atlantic, but the storm’s eventual path is quite unclear – at this point, we estimate here at NECN there is a 40% chance of seeing any impact, including rain, from Matthew next Thursday in the exclusive 10-day forecast.