(6/18/20): Capital Region Experiencing Abnormally Dry Conditions


The latest drought monitor was released Thursday (6/18) morning and as expected abnormally dry conditions have been expanded to include more locations, especially south and west of Albany. You don’t need me to tell you it has been very dry, even in the last month alone. For Albany, as of Thursday (6/18) we have only seen 0.56″ of rainfall for the month, more than an inch and a half below normal for this time in the month of June. That is nothing when you take into account the entire year so far, we are running over 4″ below normal for rainfall. Typically we should have seen just under 17″ of rain for the year to date, however, we haven’t even seen 13″ yet. Compared to last year, we had already seen above normal rainfall with amounts just over 19″, just over 2″ above normal.

The US Drought Monitor is NOT a forecast, instead it actually looks backwards on the conditions that have been developing over the course of several weeks. Each week, Thursday to be exact, they release a new assessment of drought conditions across the United States based off of the precipitation that did or did not fall up to the Tuesday before the maps are released. Going back several weeks to the beginning of June, you can see that the majority of New York and New England were not seeing abnormally dry conditions, in fact, we were seeing pretty close to normal conditions with the exception of the Northern Adirondacks, southern New Hampshire and Eastern Massachusetts.

Fast forward to the second week of June, through June 9th, you can see that abnormally dry conditions expanded quite significantly to cover the Adirondacks, much of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and from Durham north and east. This is when we were starting to see the first indications that things were becoming quite dry across the region due to the lack of precipitation.

With the updated drought monitor map issued just this morning (6/18) with data through (6/16) we can see the abnormally dry conditions have have expanded to include more locations south of Albany.

The dry conditions have really ramped up over the last 30 days alone, however, the dry conditions actually began back in May. April ended less than 1/10″ below normal, however, May ended over 2″ below normal, and we have just continued to see these dry conditions persist through the first half of June. Every location in yellow to orange is lacking in precipitation over the last 30 days, with the exception of portions of the Poconos and Central Pennsylvania, the vast majority of the Northeast is well below normal for rainfall.

How much precipitation are we lacking? Where you see the darker shades of yellow, to orange and even red is where we are seeing well below normal precipitation over the last 30 days alone. Throughout the northeast many are seeing deficits between 1/10″ of an inch all the way to well over 3″.

If these conditions continue through the next few weeks it will be likely to see drought development across the northeast. According to the US Drought Monitor drought conditions are likely to develop through Southern New Hampshire, Southern Vermont, the Northern Berkshires and extreme Eastern New York through the Taconics.

So where do we go from here? I am sure many are looking for relief, mainly farmers but even those of you with backyard gardens. The Climate Prediction Center is suggesting there could be some relief by the end of the month. Their 6-10 day Precipitation outlook has a 33% to 50% chance of above average precipitation for that time period.

They are even showing a slight chance, about 33%, for above average precipitation for the 8-14 day outlook as well, this would take us into early July.

However, we know based on past setups and the knowledge of how weather works, the old saying goes that dry conditions beget dry conditions, so, at least in the short term we are not looking at any widespread drought busting rains. BUT at the end of the day the weather will do what it wants to do and we will have to wait and see what the rest of the summer months bring. I can tell you that at least the short term guidance has not been showing much in the way of widespread rain, in fact, guidance has actually been trending drier and continue to push the rain chances further away.

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