This week’s Drought Monitor report for New York State shows a continued worsening and spreading of the drought. Nearly 92% of the state is now in some sort of drought classification, up from about 89% last week. The amount of Level 2 (Severe) Drought has also increased, from 24.21% of the state to 29.50%.
The expansion of the Level 2 Drought was seen along the shores of Lake Ontario, stretching from the Rochester area east towards Syracuse and north towards, but not quite reaching Watertown.
With the exception of the eastern half of Cortland and Onondaga County, the entire Finger Lakes region is now considered to be in a Level 2 drought.
The only part of New York not in a drought continues to be parts of the Mohawk Valley and northwestern Catskills. Previously, some parts of northern New York were not in a drought, but are now considered to be in a Level 0 (Abnormally Dry) drought.
Rainfall during the week considered in the Drought Report was minimal across the Finger Lakes. The majority of the region saw less than a quarter inch of rain, while some isolated pockets saw over a half inch. Some areas saw no rain at all.
Widespread and heavy rain moved into the area early Wednesday morning. Many areas saw over a half inch, and some parts of Tompkins and Cortland County saw 1-3 inches of rain. Much of this rain came rather quickly in torrential downpours. Downpours are not as ideal as a long, steady rain as much of the rain will become runoff instead of soaking into the ground.
This rain will put a small dent in the rainfall deficits in and around Ithaca, while the remainder of the Finger Lakes will most come out even for the week. Any additional rain in the coming days, however, will go towards chipping away at the rain deficits.
With an extremely moist air mass in place through the weekend and incoming front, the potential for more soaking rain is high across the Finger Lakes. Thunderstorms will be possible at any time through Sunday evening, but the best chances for rain will be Friday and Saturday afternoons.
During these times, rain and thunderstorms should become widespread across the Finger Lakes. Many areas will likely see rain amounts of one-half to one inch over the course of the next few days. Most of this will count towards a surplus of rain for the week, resulting in a slight lowering of the rainfall deficits.
Some areas will be subject to more torrential downpours that dump one to two inches in an hour. Most of this will run off instead of soaking into the ground. Areas that see multiple storms or get stuck under a slower moving storm could see some minor flash flooding problems from the excessive run off. Widespread flooding is not anticipated.
A cold front will eventually clear the region, ushering in dry air and high pressure. This should keep the area primarily dry for much of next week.
Tropical activity in the Atlantic Ocean remains minimal. Generally speaking, tropical activity greatly increases in late August into September. There are many indicators that the tropics will become quite active, with high chances for development near the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be something to watch in the coming weeks as a potential source for long duration, significant rainfall.