Thursday April 12, 2012

Drought reaches "severe" levels

5:00P.M. Thursday April 12, 2012

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School Forecast For:
Monday through Friday
Two-Hour Delay Cancellation Early Dismissal
0% 0% 0%

The drought conditions that developed across the northeast in late March have intensified significantly over the past week.

Drought conditions in the northeast now extend from Maine through Maryland. Moderate drought conditions are now present throughout Ulster County and the mid Hudson Valley. Severe drought conditions have developed from Boston, Massachusetts through extreme southern Dutchess County, including most of Connecticut and all of Rhode Island.

The last time a drought of this size and intensity occurred across southern New York, and New England was in April 2002, and briefly in September of the same year. The last time any drought conditions were present in the Mid-Hudson Valley was in October 2010.

The reason for the lack of rain has been a persistent high pressure system that has been in place over much of the east coast since early February. The current drought is actually part of a much larger drought that extends along the entire east coast all the way through Florida and Alabama. With the exception of of small region around the Virgina/North Carolina border, the entire coastline from central Maine to Alabama, including the entire Florida peninsula is under some degree of drought.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service does indicate the potential for some relief across the Mid-Hudson Valley in the form of a 30% to 40% chance of rain showers Sunday through Wednesday. However, it will b quite a while until precipitation figures are back up to normal values.

As of April 11, Poughkeepsie, New York has recorded the following precipitation values:

Since April 1:
0.26 inches, which represents a deficit of 1.15 inches, and 18% of normal.

Since March 1:
1.45 inches, which represents a deficit of 3.53 inches, and 29% of normal.

Since January 1:
5.06 inches, which represents a deficit of 5.66 inches, and 47% of normal.

Temperatures are expected to rise into the mid to upper 70's by Monday.


Figure 1: The extent of the drought one week ago.


Figure 2: The current extent of the drought.


Figure 3: The April 2002 drought at it's peak.

Aside from being the most significant drought in a decade, the current drought is even more noteworthy considering that just six months ago the region was dealing with record flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The National Drought Mitigation Center releases their weekly evaluation of National Drought Conditions on Thursdays. US Drought Monitor Website.

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