Abnormally dry drought status persists for the Finger Lakes

finger lakes weather drought mpa abnormally dry
Abnormally dry conditions persist across the Finger Lakes in the midst of another warm, dry spell. [Data for this map sourced from the US Drought Monitor including the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).]

Thursday, October 19, 2017, Drought Report

Much of the Finger Lakes is considered to be in the first stages of drought development, according to the latest US Drought Monitor Report.

The D0- Abnormally Dry classification was first introduced to the Finger Lakes on September 26, 2017, and expanded to its current bounds a week later on October 3rd.

finger lakes water levels low drought abnormally dry
Water levels are running low in some area ponds and streams due to a lack of precipitation over the last few months. [Photo by John Gregoire]
This is the lowest class of drought status on the five-category scale. The 2016 Drought in the Finger Lakes reached D3 or the next-to-most serious drought category.

Obviously, we are a long way from a serious drought of that magnitude.

The weather continues to be very dry and warm across the Finger Lakes as autumn is very slowly taking hold of the region.

The occasional storm system has prevented the drought from seriously taking hold, but precipitation is well below normal.

Over the last 90 days, the majority of the Finger Lakes region has seen between 50-75% or 75-90% of the normal rainfall. Ninty days ago was late July, or just after the flash floods that plagued the region earlier this summer.

Even taking those heavy rain events into consideration, precipitation for the last 180 days, back to late April, is still slightly below normal.

Long Range Precipitation Outlook

finger lakes below normal precipitation october 2017
Modeled precipitation departures relative to normal over the last 90 days, or since late July, across the Finger Lakes. Click image to enlarge. [NWS- AHPS]
As we head into the end of October and November and the winter, there are mixed signals in the long-term outlook.

A period of precipitation is likely next week as a slow-moving, complex storm system swings through the region. The details on exactly how much falls and when is still uncertain.

The Climate Prediction Center [CPC] has an over 50% chance of above normal precipitation from early next week into the weekend, which may help counterbalance the current dry streak we are in the midst of.

For the change over from October to November, the CPC is calling for equal chances of near normal, above normal, and below normal precipitation. Much of the nation, however, will be dry and quiet, so my feeling is to lean towards dry weather.

Beyond that, the CPC continues with the equal chances forecast for November, as well as for the November-January time period. That does not necessarily mean we will end up near normal, just that there is no strong indication one way or the other that it will be excessively wet or excessively dry.

The next question that naturally comes to mind, then, is what type of winter will we have? This is not something I have spent much time looking into, as I find winter season forecasting a rather fruitless endeavor (for most situations…there are definitely industries where it is important!).

From the little I have seen though, it looks like a fairly typical winter in the Finger Lakes in terms of both temperature and precipitation, which should help prevent the current dryness from getting worse.

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.

2 Responses

  1. John

    “typical winter” makes one wonder on what time scale. The mid-80s had typical which meant lots of snow. That degraded over the years where recent typical is much less snowier but either very cold or balmy. I’d say unpredictable.

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