Monday, October 17, 2016

Vermont, New England Drought Pushes On

Smoke from a forest fire mars this scene of fall
foliage last week near Richmond, Vermont 
The drought that began in many parts of the Northeast is dragging on, and there are only limited signs things could ease soon.

The drought gets a little worse or a little less bad in any particular location depending on where the light rain showers we've been wringing out of the mostly dry sky have landed.

Southern New England has seen some rain, but parts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine remain in extreme drought as do parts of western New York, according to U.S. Drought Monitor.

Here in Vermont, if anything, things have gotten worse. The southwestern two thirds of the state is in moderate drought now, and a tongue of severe drought extends from northern New York into Chittenden County, especially around Burlington.

Residents of Dorset are facing overnight water shutoffs as the community scrambles to save what little water is left in their reservoir. All 201 customers on that system should also boil their water until further notice, because of the low water, says Vermont Public Radio. 

Lake Champlain doesn't have tides, but it certainly looks like low tide as the water has reached a low not seen in decades. The water level in Lake Champlain at last check was 93.33 feet above sea level.
That's less than a foot above the all time record low in the lake of 92.61 feet on December 4, 1908.

The lake level, by the way, is still slowly fallling.

Thayer Beach on Lakc Champlain in Colchester, Vermont
shows a very low lake. Photo by
Pamela Jacobs via Twitter. 
The other day, the fall foliage southeast of Richmond, Vermont was marred by smoke from a forest fire burning on Robbins Mountain.

Fire officials say the fire is burning mostly underground, a testiment to how deep the dryness in Vermont has gotten. Luckily, the smoldering fire is not threatening any structures.

As there has often been the case this summer and fall, there are signs we could get a good rainstorm next weekend, but we've heard that song before.    

Tantalizingly wet weather patterns seem to want to develop, with a round of showers or even a couple of thunderstorms late tonight that could bring up to a third of an inch of rain.

Which is tiny, but it's something.

Then, toward the end of the week and the weekend, many forecasters, including the National Weather Service in Burlington, Vermont are at the moment anyway expected a rather soggy storm that could dump an inch of rain on us.

Maybe. That's the hope, anyway. We've been burned before.

What we need, of course, is several storms like the hoped-for one at the end of the week. Maybe one such storm a week until the ground freezes. The chances of that are low, though, because that usually doesn't happen normally, and the overall weather pattern favors relatively dry weather for the rest of the autumn in the Northeast.

So, we'll have to pray for a snowy winter and a fairly wet spring.

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