BOSTON (CBS) – Mother Nature has a unique way of balancing her weather checkbook. Just 7 months ago, more than half of the state of Massachusetts was categorized as being in “extreme drought” and nearly the entire state was in at least “moderate drought”. Flash ahead to Thursday’s update and the drought has literally been wiped off the map, destroyed.
As of this week, the slate has been wiped clean. Not only in Massachusetts, but across the entire Northeast…just a small “abnormally dry” area left in Connecticut, destined to be gone after this weekend’s rainfall. That is some turnaround.
And it isn’t just in our corner of the County. The United States as a whole currently has the least amount of drought reported since the U.S. Drought Monitor began operation back in the year 2000. Just about 5% of the Country is currently listed as “moderate” drought or worse, with less than 1% in an “extreme” category. Again, compare that to last October when about half the Country was in “moderate” to “exceptional” drought…amazing.
So how did we erase the drought in such short order? Rain. And lots of it. April was the wettest month in Boston in more than 2 years with nearly 6” of water falling. In the last 2 months alone, Boston has had 5 rain events with more than an inch of water and a total of more than 10” of liquid precipitation. This has been enough to restock our rivers and streams and also our reservoirs. The Quabbin has gained more than 25 billion (With a B!) gallons of water since late last year bringing it from 79.4% capacity to 85.7%. The Wachusett Reservoir (much smaller than the Quabbin) has gained about 5 billion gallons in the same time frame and is currently at nearly 97% capacity.
And more water is coming! Perhaps you have heard, there is a spring-time nor’easter coming the weekend (sorry mom). Models are still struggling to lock in on an exact track but at this point another 1-2” of rainfall in parts of Southern New England seems like a good bet. Looks like an ugly Saturday night-Sunday morning with periods of heavy rain and a gusty, cold northeast wind. Would I be shocked if there were reports of some wet snow mixing in well to the north and west of Boston, nope. This is about as anomalous of a storm and pattern as you can get this time of year, much more indicative of an early spring setup.
So with all this rain, we gotta be done with drought talk and water restrictions for a while right? Well, not exactly…
Taking a broader look, Southern New England is still more than 20” below the average rainfall for the last 5 years. Every year since 2012 has been below average with the exception of 2014. So, we are still skating on thin ice (so to speak) with regards to city and town water supplies and water bans/restrictions. A dry summer could put us right back into the soup. So don’t be shocked if you see those signs popping up around town for even/odd watering days later this summer.