Saturday, December 9, 2023

Eastern Orange County Upgraded to Severe Drought

Portions of eastern Orange County have been upgraded to a severe drought today as a lack of rain continues and reservoir levels continue dropping. Most other areas of Orange County remain under a moderate drought.

Less than one month ago, on July 16, 2022, The Newburgh News reported that Orange County had initially been placed under the first stage of a drought, which is considered a “D0 – Abnormally dry” drought. One week ago, portions of Orange County were upgraded to a “D1 – Moderate drought.” Today’s upgrade reached a “D2 – Severe drought.”

Portions of New England were upgraded today to a “D3 – Extreme drought,” which is highly rare for the Northeast. The highest intensity level that could be reached is a “D4 – Exceptional drought,” which the region has not yet experienced.

Area reservoir levels are continuing to drop. The seven reservoirs across the region are now at a combined 79.2% capacity. One week ago today, the capacity was 81.9%. Two weeks ago today, the capacity was 83.8%. Three weeks ago, it was at 87.7%. Reservoir levels dropped 8.5% over the last three weeks.

According to the New York City Environmental Protection, which manages the reservoirs, the capacity should be 87.8% this time of year. Water levels are 8.6% lower than they should be. The average rainfall over the seven reservoirs was just 0.47″ during the entire month of July.

The Schoharie Reservoir has plunged to 45.6% capacity. The Pepacton Reservoir, which is the largest of the seven reservoirs and has the ability to hold 140 billion gallons of water, is down to 78.2% full.

As of today – August 11, 2022, the area has only seen 1.88″ of rain since July 1, 2022, according to data recorded at the Vail’s Gate Tower, a weather towered operated by The Newburgh News, LLC. So far this August, only 0.18″ of rain has fallen over four days with logged rainfall.

During the entire month of July, 1.7″ of rain was recorded. This low rainfall total is in comparison to 3.772″ in July of 2021 and 4.406″ in July of 2020.

The intense heat seems to have subsided for now, but dry conditions are forecast to continue through the end of this weekend. There is a chance of rain showers every day next week as a series of shortwaves may move across the area, but it is too far out to know for sure. The 7-day forecast can always be viewed at the Vail’s Gate Tower.

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