December 15, 2017
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Weather Service: Current rain won’t cure Maine drought conditions

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Gabor Degre | BDN | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN | BDN
Fail Better Farm owner Clayton Carter said recently that the yield of several vegetables was significantly lower due to the drought in Maine.

CARIBOU, Maine — Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Caribou said that despite the rain that fell throughout the state Friday, it would “not be nearly enough” to temper drought conditions that are affecting much of Maine.

Meteorologist Rich Norton at the Caribou office said that it would take a “few more weeks” of such storms to change the drought conditions that have spread across a significant swath of the U.S.

Norton said that Down East would pick up three-quarters of an inch to an inch of rain between Friday and Saturday, with central Maine seeing about four-fifths of an inch. Northern Maine was expected to receive about nine-tenths of an inch, and the southern part of the state is estimated to get one-tenth of an inch.

According to the United States Drought Monitor, which was updated on Thursday, almost 70 percent of the state is experiencing drought conditions. Dry, hot conditions across the central and southern U.S. contrasted with heavy rain and mountain snow in the northwestern quarter of the nation. This resulted in drought conditions worsening rapidly from the delta to the Southeast, with forecasters also seeing such conditions intensify over portions of the Northeast. Rainfall had helped reduce or eliminate similar conditions from the northern Rockies into the Pacific Northwest.

Those in central, western and Down East Maine are experiencing moderate drought conditions. Nearly all of the residents of Aroostook County, with the exception of some residents of southern Aroostook, remain under “abnormally dry” conditions. Residents who are experiencing severe and extreme drought conditions are primarily those in southern Maine.

Karen Nickerson of Patten said that she is one of the residents in an area experiencing moderate drought. She said that she has decided to use the experience as a teaching opportunity for her two children, making them cut back on the time they spend in the shower and making them do the dishes one meal per day by hand instead of using the dishwasher.

“They have no idea what it was like growing up at a time when some people had hand-dug wells and they saw them go dry in conditions like this,” she said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering federal programs to Maine’s farmers and livestock producers to help them recover from the drought through its Maine Farm Service Agency. The agency is offering disaster assistance and low-interest loans to help food producers.

USDA Maine Farm Service Agency Executive Director Don Todd said that such safety-net programs were reinstated with the 2014 Farm Bill and allow the USDA to respond to the needs of food producers who have suffered because of a natural disaster.

Norton said that more rain is forecast for later in the week and early next week, but the amounts are not expected to be significant.

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