Parts of Maine were getting some much-needed rain Thursday, but state officials are not ready to say it’s enough to end current drought conditions around the state, according to information released Thursday.
Even as heavy rains were falling over much of northern and western Maine Thursday afternoon, the United States Drought Monitor map was showing abnormally dry conditions from Kittery to Fort Kent.
“Except for Washington County, every county in Maine is experiencing drought or abnormally dry conditions in at least part of the county,” according to Suzanne Krauss, director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency.
This is the third summer in a row Maine has experienced drought condtiions, according to Krauss. The 2016 dry spell was the first drought since 2002.
Conditions are especially bad in northern Aroostook County where there have been lower than normal strawberry yields and potato farmers need a steady rain to provide moisture the tubers need over the next four weeks to gain size.
Before Thursday’s rain, Aroostook County had received less than an inch and a half of rain for all of July, according to National Weather Service office in Caribou, compared to the normal average of 3.08 inches. Temperatures are also above normal for July, averaging 69.7 degrees, 4.2 degrees above average.
It’s not just the Aroostook County farmers taking a hit with the dry conditions.
As of this past Wednesday, the 7-day average streamflow conditions in Maine are in extreme to moderate hydrologic drought conditions, according to the US Geological Survey.
Hydrological drought refers to shortages of water resources when groundwater, reservoirs or stream levels are significantly reduced and affect drinking water supplies.
Wells around the state are showing below normal levels, according to the USGS.
The conditions are expected to improve, according to Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service in Gray.
“We are actually transitioning into a wetter than normal pattern,” Hawley said. “The three-to- four-week precipitation forecasts are all calling for above normal precipitation.”
The next several days could bring 1- to 2-inches of rain to Maine, with southern coastal areas getting the greatest amount.
Members of the state’s drought task force, a group that operates with MEMA, is monitoring the conditions.
“We will convene the [task force] if conditions worsen,” Krauss said. “Meanwhile, those who own wells should check water levels, and if the water is low, consider reducing daily water usage and balance usage throughout the day to allow for groundwater recharge.”
Well owners are also encouraged to share any water concerns with their local emergency managers or municipal officials.
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