CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Despite this week’s stormy weather, dry conditions are expanding in parts of New England and New York due to warmer than average temperatures.
Large parts of the area are abnormally dry or enduring moderate drought conditions, according to data released Thursday from the National Drought Monitor. Moderate drought also reached most of Vermont and New Hampshire, southern Maine and near Buffalo and Rochester in New York.
In New Hampshire, the state Department of Environmental Services says that nearly 50 communities have some water restrictions with nearly half of them being mandatory. With the entire state either in moderate drought or abnormally dry, the rules restrict outdoor water use.
“It could definitely get worse before it gets better,” said Mary Stampone, the state climatologist. “The near-term forecast is for wet weather which would be great. But we still have quite a bit of summer to go. As temperatures get warmer, if you don’t get the precipitation you need, the drought can intensify.”
But Stampone said the drought conditions are nothing like they were in 2016. Then, bone-dry conditions caused private wells to go dry, fire risks were increased and farmers were forced to abandon crops or spend much more on irrigation.
Instead, the drier conditions have everyone from municipal leaders to farmers on alert.
At a drought management meeting in Concord on Thursday, officials talked about levels at some of the larger lakes being below normal for this time of year. There were also reports of dry wells — though most municipal water systems said they were in good shape.
Farmers, meanwhile, reported the lack of rain fall has stunted the growth of some crops and raised concerns that a prolonged drought could put the planting of fall crops at risk. Others are concerned about having to spend more on irrigation if the drought persists.
–By MICHAEL CASEY , Associated Press