July Rain Brought Relief from Drought in Parts of Maine
Heavy rain last month in some areas of Maine eased drought conditions, but over 70% of the state is still abnormally dry or is experiencing some level of drought, according to the latest data.
Maine's Drought Task Force met virtually on July 29th to discuss drought conditions across the state. While coastal Maine and into the far eastern portion of Aroostook County are not experiencing drought, much of central and northern Maine are considered abnormally dry. The interior section of the state is classified in moderate drought and western Maine is experiencing severe drought status, the task force said.
"Perspective is important when it comes to the drought," said Nick Stasulis, Data Section Chief of the U.S. Geological Survey. "Folks in coastal and eastern Maine may not think there's an issue as there's been improvement in stream flow conditions due to recent rain, but fast-moving storms are generally not conducive to groundwater recharge."
"We've been put into a weather pattern that is much wetter than we normally see," said Sarah Jamison of the National Weather Service. "May and June saw notably warmer temperatures, which increase evaporation of groundwater. July has been below normal temperature and wetter, though the rain has been heavy deluges that runs off, not a slow rain that allows for groundwater recharge."
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Public Service Coordinator Tom Gordon said, "Persistent showers have reduced the need for supplemental irrigation of crops in many areas. Many farmers are reporting improved crop growth and quality. Some crop loss was noted from early summer drought."
The Maine Forest Service reports recent rains have eased the fire danger in many parts of the state. Regional Forest Ranger Matt Gomes said, "It seems that much of our precipitation has been on the weekends where we historically experience the highest fire numbers. Having rain on a weekend deters many from burning and it certainly limits or eliminates the chance of a fire escaping. We should expect a rise in fire activity if we start into another prolonged drying trend."
"Conditions are looking better and that's good news, but it won't take much to push back the other way," said Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Peter Rogers. "We're not out of the woods yet."
Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor for Maine show 39% of the state is abnormally dry, 24% is in a moderate drought, and 8% is in severe drought.