Parts of the Finger Lakes are now classified as a Level 3, Extreme drought
For the first time since the Drought Monitor began in 2000, Level 3 (Extreme) Drought has shown up in the Finger Lakes. This is the 2nd worst possible classification of drought.
Two areas, accounting for a little over 6% of New York State, have been placed into Level 3 Drought. The northern Finger Lakes, including Geneva and Canadaigua, are included in an area that stretches east to west back towards Buffalo. The second area includes Hammondsport, Watkins Glen and Ithaca.
The majority of the remainder of the Finger Lakes remains in a Level 2 (Severe) drought. Some improvement was seen along the eastern and southern fringes of the area, where Level 1 (Moderate) Drought has made its way back.
Further east, the area of no drought has expanded, and now encompasses over 12.5% of the state. This is an increase from about 8% last week.
The cut off between Level 3 Drought and No Drought is incredibly tight. Dryden, situated in east-central Tompkins County, is in the Level 3 classification. In eastern Cortland County, 20 miles to the east, is in the no drought classification.
The week considered in the current drought report, August 9-15, was a fairly good week for the Finger Lakes. Heavy rain moved through parts of the area on Wednesday, August 10th during the morning hours. Widespread showers and thunderstorms also developed on Saturday, August 13th. Additional rain fell on Tuesday, August 16th, but is not included in the two rainfall graphics presented here.
The heaviest rains were concentrated over the eastern Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier, where the thunderstorms were most numerous Wednesday and Saturday. Areas in yellow in the above graphic received over 2 inches of rain. The entire Finger Lakes region got at least a half inch of rain.
While good news, the actual net gain against our average rainfall was minimal for most areas. Shown to the right is how much rain fell versus how much should normally be expected during the 7 day period.
Unfortunately, the areas that saw an inch or more (dark greens and blues) above normal was very small. The vast majority of the area was right around average (grey). While no where was significantly below average, the rain that did fall mostly kept conditions at the status quo.
Much of the rain also came in downpours. Instead of soaking into the ground, as in a slow, steady rain, much of what fell quickly turned into runoff and had little beneficial impact.
During the coming week, there is one primary chance for significant rain in the Finger Lakes.
A strong cold front will move through the area on Sunday. Widespread showers and thunderstorms are expected with this system. Most areas should see between a half and one inch of new rain. Some of the heavier thunderstorms, however, could dump upwards of 2 inches of rain.
Again though, much of this will turn into run off and not soak into the hard, dry ground.
High pressure will build in behind this system, keeping most of next week dry.
The good news is that it will be cooler than normal next week. The sun is also sinking lower in the sky as summer wanes.
The drought really ramped up in June, when the sun was at its peak strength and skies were continuously clear. While the lack of precipitation will not help the area, as long as we keep getting some bouts of rain, the drought will probably not become more intense.