The entire Finger Lakes region is now classified as having either a Level 1 or Level 2 drought.
The latest US Drought Monitor report shows the drought continuing to worsen across the Finger Lakes. The vast majority of the region is now classified as a Level 2 Drought. The Drought Monitor calls this classification severe, but as I explained last week, I prefer to label these levels numerically.
Last week, there were some areas that were still only classified as Level 0- Abnormally Dry. However, that classification has now been removed from our region and is limited to areas east of I-81, where rain continues to be more plentiful.
The Finger Lakes and Western New York are the only parts of New York State listed as a Level 2 drought. This accounts for about 23% of the entire state, which is double last week’s area of Level 2 Drought. The percent area of New York not seeing any drought remained steady at just over 10%.
The amount of Level 2 Drought shown on this week’s report is the highest percentage for New York State since the drought monitor began in 2000. A Drought Watch has been issued by the state to urge water conservation.
While not comparing to the multi-year droughts of the mid 1960s, this drought is taking its place with some of the other memorable droughts our region has experienced.
For some parts of the Finger Lakes, the past week saw some decent amounts of rain. Please keep in mind that the above drought report includes data from last Wednesday, July 13 to this Tuesday, July 19. Wednesday the 13th was a stormy day in the Finger Lakes, but that data is not included in this 7-day rainfall graphic.
All of the areas in green, which includes the majority of the Finger Lakes, saw over a half inch of rain. Areas in blue, however, were largely missed by heavier thunderstorms and saw under a half inch of rain. A few localized areas saw repeated thunderstorms and picked up over an inch of rain.
Generally speaking, this rain has slowed the progress of the drought, but likely is not doing much to reverse the effects in the long term.
Looking for Drought Relief
Unfortunately, the rainfall forecast does not look overly favorable for at least the next week. There will be two main chances for rain during this time period, but neither look overly impressive.
Cold fronts will push into the Finger Lakes on Friday (July 22) and Monday (July 25). While the details on Monday are less certain, neither day looks like it will bring more than isolated to scattered showers and storms to the area. Some locally heavy downpours will of course be possible, but my feeling is that the majority of the region will see very little rain by this time next week.
Grasping at straws of hope, the European weather model has shown an area of low pressure tracking from the Mid-Mississippi Valley towards the Great Lakes or Northeast late next week with an area of widespread, soaking rain. Should such an event occur and move over our region, it could go a long way in helping our drought status. This is little more than speculation at this point, though it will be something to watch and hope for over the coming days.
Generally speaking, however, there is little indication that the overall weather pattern over the eastern United States will change any time soon. We will likely continue with very dry weather for the remainder of the summer, relying on thunderstorms for the majority of our precipitation.