Weather

How can we have drought conditions after all that snow?

This time of year, at times, it actually can take me a bit longer to think about what to write in the blog. I mean, in winter it becomes obvious because so many of you are interested in the cold and snow. Most of the spring, summer, or fall, we don’t tend to have big storms, except of course the occasional bought of severe weather or, even less common, a tropical system.

On a cloudless day, with a forecasted high temperature around 70 degrees, there isn’t much to get excited about, or is there? I do get somewhat giddy when the weather is this perfect. It’s great to be able to work outside, and enjoy this time of year. One of the many things I do to earn a living is put in gardens for a handful of folks. I don’t aspire to grow this part of my life, but it’s fun to work with people on creating new and interesting corners of their yard. On hot or rainy days it’s not so much fun, but today is awesome.

The recent heat and dry weather has sort of stolen that special time of year I enjoy so much. Usually, cooler and wetter weather helps the plants to leaf out slowly. This year we rapidly went from bare to nearly fully in leaf. I feel like the magic of May was even more fleeting than usual.

You’re likely aware we need rain and maybe have even heard or read the word drought being thrown about. It may seem utterly ridiculous to be talking about drought after receiving over 90 to 100 inches of snow this winter in such a wide area.

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All that snow
Let’s look at February 2015. We all know it was a snowy month. However, because it was so cold, and the snow was so fluffy, the amount of water in the snow was actually about half of average. Therefore, most areas, with the exception of the immediate Boston area, has below average precipitation or water equivalent. Even in Boston, when you melted all the snow, the water it yielded was only slightly above average. See the map below.

febs rain below.jpg


Dry since March

Now let’s review the data over the past 60 days. The first map shows how much rain we actually feel during this period. Without knowing how much usually would fall, it’s meaningless. So look at the next map. This shows how many inches we are below average. Most areas need 2-6 inches of rain to elevate the current drought conditions.

last 60 days rain.jpg
last 60 days rain below.jpg

Drought status
This morning’s latest drought monitor report has expanded the area of abnormally dry weather to include much of the Northeast and basically New England in its entirety. Drought can be defined in a lot of ways, and while this dry weather isn’t good for growing, the water table itself is still high and reservoirs are quite full. The Quabbin reservoir is nearly at capacity and not much under where it was this time in 2014.

drought may 1215.png

Outlook
The 8-14 day outlook of precipitation has most of New England in near normal to a slightly better chance of above normal rainfall. While this wouldn’t alleviate the dry conditions, even average amounts of precipitation will slow down the building drought.

end of may water.gif

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