Finger Lakes Drought Report: July 21, 2016

Finger Lakes Drought July 21 2016
The entire Finger Lakes region is now classified as having either a Level 1 or Level 2 drought.

The entire Finger Lakes region is now classified as having either a Level 1 or Level 2 drought.

Drought Status

The July 21, 2016 U.S. Drought Monitor Report for New York State.
The July 21, 2016 U.S. Drought Monitor Report for New York State.

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.

Recent Rainfall

Recent Finger Lakes rain amounts
Much of the Finger Lakes saw over a half inch of rain during the last 7 days.

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.

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Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
Follow Meteorologist Drew Montreuil:

Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.) When not forecasting, he can be found working at the local library, making soap, or playing with his two young boys.

8 Responses

  1. James Hamilton
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    I like your Drought Reports a lot! Good clear explanation and presentation of graphics. I wonder, though, if you could include outlines of the Finger Lakes in the “7-Day Rain Totals” map? The way they’re represented in the “Finger Lakes Drought Status” map makes it easier to see which parts of our region are getting the scant rain. The county borders, of course, are indispensable for this; but seeing where the lakes lie in the counties would make the Rain Totals map easier to read.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
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      I will see what I can do to add them. Most of the data sources I use interpolate rain amounts over the lakes as well and don’t show them by default, but I can probably make something better! Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Jason howard
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    Is this similar to the summer of 1995? I remember that summer being similar. Also, did 1995’s summer follow a big El NiƱo? Thanks for all the updates, we love you!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
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      Taking a very quick look…1995 was actually very similar. Through July 20, the amount of rain in Ithaca during the year is less than a half an inch less in 2016 compared to 1995. And yes, the winter of 1994-1995 was an El Nino winter that transitioned into a La Nina during the winter of 1995-1996. A similar pattern between 1997/98 and 1998/99 is also found, with a drought in the summer of 1998. There may be something there to look at closer…

      • jason howard
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        interesting…. being an avid skier, i obviously root for a nice snowy winter. for some reason i remember the summer of 95 well ( i worked outdoors). the winter of 95-96 was a good one for skiers- i took a winter job at labrador mtn, and i felt like it snowed a little bit every day and was an above average snow year, with some good sized storms rolling through. if there is a pattern developing, and this winter mimics 95-96 we’re in for a snowy one.

        • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
          Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
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          Its definitely something I will be looking at as I start to put together a wi ter forecast. I will say that the other season i referenced, 1998-1999, was not overly snowy…but there is lots to look for before making any conclusions.

  3. jhholland
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    There’s no legend to the map, and I’m confused… Is D1 better (less drought-stricken) than D2? Is Geneva drier than Syracuse? Thanks!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
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      That is right. A Level 1 drought (D1) is less severe than Level 2 (D2). Geneva is in a worse drought than Syracuse.