Finger Lakes Drought Report: September 29, 2016

finger lakes new york central new york drought
While the drought classifications in the Finger Lakes remain unchanged, Central New York’s drought free zone is shrinking.

While the drought classifications in the Finger Lakes remain unchanged, Central New York’s drought free zone is shrinking.

Drought Status

Level 3 (Extreme) Drought persist across most of the Finger Lakes region. Areas to the east remain much better off than the Finger Lakes.

The area classified as Level 3 (Extreme) Drought has not changed once again this week. The Finger Lakes region classified as such accounts for just under 10% of New York State.

The Level 2 (Severe) Drought area that surrounds the Extreme area, along with a small area of Level 2 drought on Long Island, remains unchanged at a little over 27% of New York.

Parts of Central New York and extreme southwest New York are the only parts of the state classified as not having any drought status. However, this area is starting to shrink. Much of Chenango County, for example, has been added to the Level 0 (Abnormally Dry) classification. In all, less than 10% of New York State is classified as not having any drought at all.

Water conservation should continue across our region. Wells are running dry and streams and ponds are extremely low or dried up. This continues to be a serious problem for our region.

Missing Out on Heavy Rain

finger lakes drought rain mid atlantic flooding
National Weather Service predicted rainfall through Saturday shows the Finger Lakes narrowly missing out on beneficial, soaking rains. Click to enlarge [NWS NFD]
The weather through the weekend and into early next week will be unsettled across the Finger Lakes. However, the region will largely miss out on beneficial rain once again.

A large low-pressure system over the southern Great Lakes will only slowly drift northeast over the coming days. The clockwise winds around this low will feed a steady stream of moisture off the Atlantic Ocean into the Mid-Atlantic.

The Finger Lakes will be on the very fringe of this stream of moisture, with occasional showers each day through the weekend. Generally, though, heavy rain is unlikely in our area.

Just to the south, however, heavy rain is likely across Pennsylvania and into the Mid-Atlantic. Some areas will likely see too much rain with flooding possible. Excessive rain amounts are likely, and while we certainly do not want too much rain too fast, it would have been very helpful to see the moderate rain amounts of 2-3 inches expected across much of Pennsylvania.

Through the weekend, most of the Finger Lakes will probably see less than an inch of rain, with parts of southwest New York seeing the best chance for an inch or more.

Matthew Develops

As expected, Matthew developed into a Tropical Storm over the Caribbean yesterday. Matthew debuted as a strong tropical storm and will likely become a hurricane within the next day or two.

Over the weekend, Matthew could develop into a strong hurricane. Early next week, the storm will approach Cuba, Haiti, and/or Jamaica as it turns north.

tropical storm matthew hurricane matthew satellite
Matthew is well organized and may rapidly strengthen as it approaches Cuba, Haiti, or Jamaica. Matthew could become a very dangerous storm next week, but its track is very uncertain.

The track of Matthew beyond early next week is very uncertain. While a path into the Gulf of Mexico or straight out into the Atlantic is possible, it seems slightly more probable that the path could be close to the southeast coast of the United States.

If, and it is a very big if, Matthew makes its way towards the Finger Lakes, it would arrive late next week. A direct shot of rain from Matthew could potentially bring 2-5 inches of rain to the area. The chances, at this point, that our region gets that, are very small.

Regardless of whether Matthew makes it to the Finger Lakes, this will likely become a very powerful storm which could cause major damage somewhere. As much as our region is suffering from a drought, it would be inappropriate and selfish to wish for anything but a track that takes Matthew harmlessly out to sea. Our drought is certainly bad and having serious impacts, but we aren’t going to lose our homes or lives from it.

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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.

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