Sunday, June 26, 2016

It's Gorgeous In Vermont, But Maybe Too Much Of A Good Thing Is Making Us Too Dry?

Yellow depict abnormally dry, the darker orange shade
is droubht. As you can see there are already
pockets of drought in New England, and most
of the region is abnormally dry.  
The forecast for the rest of this June Sunday in Vermont is for sunny, hot and dry weather, with readings in the 80s to low 90s.

In other words, a perfect summer day for the beach or a picnic.

We've had lots of such days lately. Which generally is a good thing. The tourists like it and spend money. We like it because we get to do stuff outside in our all-too-brief summer.

But these repeated stretches of sunny, dry weather are starting to become too much of a good thing.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says the entire state of Vermont - and most of New England for that matter - is abnormally dry, just one step below being declared within an official drought.

In fact patches of New England are now considered in a drought, though at least it's not extreme like California's.

If this weather pattern goes on for the rest of the summer, though, Vermont and the rest of New England is definitely at risk for crop damage, water shortages in some towns and maybe even a few forest fires.

The dryness has been slowly building all spring. Precipitation has come in fits and starts. We haven't had any near record dry months, but April, May and so far June have been running below normal.

Some particular weather patterns made soils dry out more than you'd expect when precipitation is only somewhat below normal.

Vermont's very scant snow winter snow cover melted early in March. That allowed sun to penetrate into the ground and dry it out.

April and early May were on the cool side, delaying the leaf out in the trees. That kept the sun drying the forest floor more and more, since there were no leaves on the trees to block the sun for weeks on end.

Finally, the warm to hot spells Vermont has experienced in late May and June have tended to feature pretty low humidity. Usually, hot spells have quite a bit of humidity, which slows evaporation. This year, the humidity is tending to stay low, so things dry out faster.

There is some rain in the forecast. Maybe a little Monday afternoon, and then some showers and thunderstorms Tuesday and Tuesday evening. But these showers don't look like they'll be super soakers, and we'll  probably go back to the generally dry weather again for the second half of the week.

This could turn around and the rest of the summer could be relatively wet, for all I know.  We are DEFINITELY nowhere near any kind of crisis level.

But if I were a farmer or a water manager, I might be starting to get just slightly concerned.

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