Abnormally dry conditions spread across most of New Hampshire
Most of the state is now engulfed in abnormally dry conditions, which are expected to persist and potentially worsen in the coming weeks with above-average temperatures in the forecast.
Precipitation has been down during both the spring and summer, one factor driving the dry conditions, according to Ted Diers, assistant director of the water division for the Department of Environmental Services.
“The underlying thing is we’re having – more or less – less-than-average rainfall pretty much uniformly across the state,” Diers said. The state has gotten between 25 and 50 percent less rain than usual over the past three months, but cool temperatures have kept drought conditions at bay up until this point, Diers said.
In one week, the state went from being nearly free of drought conditions to almost entirely “abnormally dry,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report. Now, only one small sliver in the northwestern part of the state remains drought-free. A thin stretch of the southeastern part of the state is already experiencing moderate drought conditions.
The dry spell comes on the heels of a winter with much less snowpack than normal, Diers said. Climate scientists have found that winter is the season that is warming fastest due to climate change, and they anticipate snowpack to continue diminishing. They project that while the state will become wetter, most of the precipitation will be concentrated in extreme rain events, mostly during the spring. Those conditions will allow for drought to worsen in future years as summer temperatures are projected to continue rising.
With higher-than-average temperatures predicted for July through September, Diers expects that drought conditions could deepen and spread, although summer storms could provide some relief.