Level 3 (Extreme) Drought continues across much of the Finger Lakes according to this week’s drought report.
For the second straight week, there were little to no changes made to the drought map across the Finger Lakes according to the US Drought Monitor.
In western New York, Level 3 (Extreme) drought was improved to Level 2 (Severe) across Erie County. The only other changes in the state were across northern New York, where the drought status was worsened.
With the subtraction of Erie County from the Level 3 category, the percent of the state in Level 3 has dropped from about 6 percent last week to about 5 percent this week. The only Level 3 Drought in the state is across the Finger Lakes.
The amount of the state not in drought was virtually unchanged and remains restricted to parts of Central New York and the Catskills.
There have been a lot of questions lately about how the US Drought Monitor generates these maps. I sent an email to the Drought Monitor asking for more information and was told there are 40-50 different indicators that go into generating the maps. I was not told what those factors were. Here is a link to a brochure put out by the US Drought Monitor with more information on their products.
The final week of August was no help towards alleviating the drought across the Finger Lakes.
Most areas saw very little to no rain. Only a few localized areas managed to see near or above normal rainfall this week, primarily from thunderstorms on Sunday evening.
While the month of August as a whole saw near to slightly above normal precipitation, the Finger Lakes remains in a serious precipitation deficit.
Going back over the last six months, nearly the entire region is six to twelve inches below the normal precipitation. The northern Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and especially Central New York do not have nearly the sizable deficits that the rest of the region does.
Some of this huge deficit can be attributed to the lack of snow this past winter, but we have been dealing with below normal precipitation going all the way back to July 2015.
In fact, since then, monthly precipitation has only been significantly above normal for the entire region in December 2015 and February 2016, with about half of the region seeing above normal precipitation in September 2015, and the other half seeing below normal precipitation that month.
After what seemed like a pattern of yearly floods between 2011 and spring 2015, the pattern has flipped.
No Help from Hermine or Otherwise
As I mentioned in last week’s drought report, the potential for a tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico has come to fruition. Tropical Storm Hermine has finally formed and is rapidly approaching hurricane strength. Landfall as a category 1 hurricane is expected tonight in the Florida Panhandle.
The weather pattern I saw in place last week is still what is expected. Strong high pressure will build into the region from the north over the next couple of days, effectively blocking Hermine from coming too far north.
The track of Hermine beyond the Outer Banks is certainly interesting and uncertain, but the chances of precipitation working its way into the Finger Lakes is minuscule. Some clouds from Hermine on Sunday will likely be all we see from this storm.
Dominate high pressure will keep more than just Hermine at bay though. Precipitation is unlikely to fall in the Finger Lakes at any point during the next week. It may not be until next Thursday or Friday that rain falls in the Finger Lakes again.
Conditions looks more favorable for rain fall during the middle of September, and of course, the tropics will need constant monitoring with very warm water off the east coast and an active hurricane season expected to continue.