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Saturday, April 21, 2012

First official drought statement in 2012

Pawcatuck river below normal for months
and now at one third average flow for April
Several days ago we published an ecoRI article on the impending drought. On April 17 the National Weather Service issued an official Severe Drought alert for Rhode Island. 

Rain expected on Sunday will give us some short-term relief but we have a lot of catching up to do.


In addition to the announcement below a State report with lots of data dated April 12, before this announcement, is available here.

...U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR INDICATES MODERATE TO SEVERE DROUGHT ACROSS SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND...


SYNOPSIS...
THIS IS THE FIRST DROUGHT STATEMENT TO BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON MA IN 2012. THESE STATEMENTS PERTAIN TO CONDITIONS IN SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND...INCLUDING SOUTHWEST NEW HAMPSHIRE...ALL OF MASSACHUSETTS EXCEPT FOR BERKSHIRE COUNTY...ALL OF RHODE ISLAND...AND NORTHERN CONNECTICUT.

THE U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR INDICATES SEVERE DROUGHT ACROSS RHODE ISLAND...THE EASTERN HALF OF MASSACHUSETTS...AND MOST OF NORTHERN CONNECTICUT...WITH MODERATE DROUGHT OVER WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS AND
SOUTHWEST NEW HAMPSHIRE. THERE ARE MULTIPLE WAYS TO DEFINE DROUGHT. CURRENT CONDITIONS HAVE BEEN LARGELY DRIVEN BY METEOROLOGICAL DROUGHT...WITH PRECIPITATION THAT HAS BEEN APPROXIMATELY ONE HALF OF NORMAL SINCE JANUARY OF 2012. THE RESPONSE IN RIVERS AND STREAMS HAS BEEN SIGNIFICANT...BUT RESERVOIRS WERE STILL AT NORMAL TO ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS...AND VEGETATION WAS STILL ONLY BEGINNING TO COME OUT.

SUMMARY OF IMPACTS...
THE METEOROLOGICAL DROUGHT HAS RESULTED IN PERIODS OF VERY HIGH FIRE DANGER IN RECENT WEEKS. IN SOUTHEAST MASSACHUSETTS SMALL POND LEVELS HAVE ALSO BEEN OBSERVED TO BE SHARPLY REDUCED. ALTHOUGH SOIL MOISTURE IS WELL BELOW NORMAL FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR...VEGETATION IS STILL ONLY BEGINNING TO COME OUT SO SIGNIFICANT AGRICULTURAL IMPACTS AS A RESULT OF THE DRY CONDITIONS HAD NOT YET MATERIALIZED AS OF MID APRIL.

THE LACK OF PRECIPITATION HAS RESULTED IN A STEADY DECLINE IN SOIL MOISTURE AND RIVER LEVELS. MANY RIVERS AND STREAMS THAT ARE GAGED BY THE UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY HAVE BEEN INDICATING RECORD LOW FLOWS FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR.  GROUND WATER LEVELS VARY ACROSS THE REGION...SOME ARE STILL WITHIN A NORMAL RANGE...OTHERS ARE WELL BELOW NORMAL LEVELS...BUT GAGED WELLS ARE GENERALLY INDICATING A GRADUAL AND STEADY DECLINE.

AS OF THE FIRST HALF OF APRIL...THE VAST MAJORITY OF RESERVOIRS IN SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND WERE AT NORMAL TO EVEN ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR. THIS WAS LARGELY DUE TO WELL ABOVE NORMAL RAINFALL DURING LAST AUGUST THROUGH NOVEMBER...WHICH SERVED TO FILL RESERVOIRS...AND ALSO SENT RIVERS AND STREAMS...AS WELL AS GROUND WATER...TO WELL ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS FOR A PERIOD OF TIME.

CLIMATE SUMMARY...
FROM JANUARY 1 THROUGH APRIL 15...PRECIPITATION HAS BEEN 6 TO 8 INCHES BELOW NORMAL ACROSS NORTHEAST CONNECTICUT...RHODE ISLAND AND SOUTHEAST MASSACHUSETTS.  ACROSS THE REMAINDER OF SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND...PRECIPITATION HAS GENERALLY BEEN 5 TO 7 INCHES BELOW NORMAL. THIS TRANSLATES TO AROUND OR LESS THAN 50 PERCENT OF NORMAL PRECIPITATION FOR MUCH OF SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND.

PRECIPITATION/TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK...
FROM APRIL 17 TO APRIL 22...NORMAL PRECIPITATION IS POSSIBLE. THERE ARE CHANCES FOR RAIN FROM A POTENTIAL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM ON SUNDAY AND MONDAY WHICH COULD BRING AN INCH OR SO OF RAIN. TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO BE WELL ABOVE NORMAL FOR MUCH OF THE PERIOD. 

THE 8 TO 14 DAY OUTLOOK FROM THE CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER FOR APRIL 23 TO 29...TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO AVERAGE ABOVE NORMAL...WITH BELOW NORMAL PRECIPITATION.

HYDROLOGIC SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK...
AS OF APRIL 15...RIVERS AND STREAMS WERE RUNNING WELL BELOW NORMAL
FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR. GROUNDWATER VARIED FROM NORMAL TO WELL BELOW
NORMAL. WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT RAIN...DETERIORATION COULD CONTINUE IN
THE FORM OF LOWERING RIVER AND STREAM LEVELS...AND LOWERING GROUND
WATER LEVELS.

ALSO IF THE DRY CONDITIONS CONTINUE ACCOMPANIED BY ABOVE NORMAL
TEMPERATURES...AGRICULTURAL CONCERNS MAY INCREASE OVER THE COURSE OF
THE NEXT 30 DAYS AS THE GROWING SEASON BEGINS.

NEXT ISSUANCE DATE...
THIS PRODUCT WILL BE UPDATED ON WEDNESDAY MAY 16 OR SOONER IF
NECESSARY IN RESPONSE TO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN CONDITIONS.

&&

RELATED WEB SITES...
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON CURRENT DROUGHT CONDITIONS MAY BE FOUND
AT THE FOLLOWING WEB ADDRESSES /USE LOWER CASE LETTERS/...

U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR...HTTP://WWW.DROUGHT.UNL.EDU/DM/MONITOR.HTML
NOAA DROUGHT PAGE...HTTP://WWW.DROUGHT.NOAA.GOV
CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER /CPC/...HTTP://WWW.CPC.NCEP.NOAA.GOV
NORTHEAST REGIONAL CLIMATE CENTER...HTTP://WWW.NRCC.CORNELL.EDU
ADDITIONAL RIVER INFORMATION...
NWS...HTTP://WWW.WEATHER.GOV/AHPS
USGS...HTTP://WATER.USGS.GOV/
USACE...HTTP://WWW.MVR.USACE.ARMY.MIL

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...
THE DROUGHT MONITOR IS A MULTI-AGENCY EFFORT INVOLVING NOAA/S
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AND NATIONAL CLIMATIC DATA CENTER...THE
USDA...STATE AND REGIONAL CENTER CLIMATOLOGISTS AND THE NATIONAL
DROUGHT MITIGATION CENTER. INFORMATION FOR THIS STATEMENT HAS
BEEN GATHERED FROM NWS AND FAA OBSERVATION SITES...STATE
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICES...THE USDA...USACE AND USGS.

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