How much has recent rain helped the Drought?

finger lakes drought map
Though not as severe, drought conditions persist across the Finger Lakes.

Though not as severe, drought conditions persist across the Finger Lakes.

Finger Lakes Drought Status

new york state drought change
While the Finger Lakes and Western New York have seen an improvement in the drought over the last month, eastern New York has seen the drought get worse. Click to enlarge.

Despite some recent heavy rain fall, the Finger Lakes region remains in a drought situation. The rainfall has certainly helped ease the drought, though.

Over the last two weeks, the D3- Extreme Drought classification has been totally removed from our region and New York state as a whole.

However, there is still a long way to go before the drought is removed. In the recent weeks, much of eastern New York has been dry, so the state as a whole has seen an increase in drought coverage, even as the severity of the drought decreases in the areas where it was worst.

In all, about 96% of New York State has some level of drought currently. That is up from 89.57% in late July, three months ago.

Most of the Finger Lakes remains in the same drought classification, D2-Severe, as it was three months ago.

The drought impacts in the Finger Lakes region are more of a long term impact. For example, water tables remain low. Short term effects are less due to the recent rainfall.

Recent Rain Only a Dent in the Drought

Precipitation deficits since the beginning of 2016 remain as high as 8 to 12 inches below normal in some areas. Click to enlarge.
Precipitation deficits since the beginning of 2016 remain as high as 8 to 12 inches below normal in some areas. Click to enlarge.

With the cool, wet weather, it may be hard for some to imagine that we are still in a Severe Drought. It is important to remember that a drought is a long term problem caused by a prolonged period of below normal rain fall.

Before the heavy rain set in last week, most of the region was looking at a 8-12″ precipitation deficit since the start of the year. A few areas were even worse off.

The Finger Lakes have seen three to six inches of rain during the last 2 weeks. This above normal rainfall has dented the deficit, but is far from erasing it in most areas.

Worst off is western New York, where rainfall amounts were less last week. Precipitation deficits here remain between 8-16″ below normal. The southeastern Finger Lakes, especially Tompkins County, remain 6-12″ below normal. Elsewhere, precipitation deficits are generally between 2-6″.

To erase the drought, above normal precipitation will have to continue for quite some time.

Precipitation Outlook

Precipitation over the next week may be a bit below normal.

Some scattered showers will move through the Finger Lakes both Saturday and Sunday. However, rain amounts will generally be quite light with most places seeing less than a quarter inch of precipitation.

The next system to move through on Tuesday will not produce much rain either with the parent low tracking well to the north of the region. A slightly better chance for rain will come towards the end of next week.

Looking more towards the long term, precipitation over the next 1-2 months is generally expected to be near normal. While I have not made an official winter prediction (and I may not have time to this year), I am expecting a fairly typical winter with near normal snow fall.

While a prolonged period of normal rain fall will help prevent the drought from getting worse, it may take us a long time to chip away at it to get back to normal.





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.). Drew and his wife have four young boys. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.

5 Responses

  1. joe

    Have you considered “cyclic climatic change , which consumes many decades, or more time in competing the “cycle” ?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Hi Joe! Yes, I definitely believe that are long term, natural cycles in the climate. One of the most obvious is the multi-decade cycle of active and relatively inactive Atlantic hurricane seasons, but I am sure there are others as well.

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  3. John

    Would that be a normal snow based on a multi year norm or some kind of new normal? Normal for the last ten years has been a pittance while normal over the last 30 would be a but better.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Thinking more along the lines of a 30 year normal, John.