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Drought Shrinks, But Extreme Patch In Southeastern N.H. Remains

Shawn St. Hilaire

New Hampshire’s dry conditions are improving after recent rain, but the southeastern part of the state is still in extreme drought. 

The latest update from the National Drought Monitor shows two areas of extreme drought left all across New England. One covers parts of southern Maine across the upper Seacoast toward I-93. The other spans from Cape Cod into Rhode Island.

Almost all of the rest of New Hampshire is still in the same moderate to severe drought that began in May. It's caused water wells, rivers and streams to run dry, with some small forest fires and impacts to farming.

But humidity has been high in the past few weeks, with some more sustained rainfall. It's led the state and, on Thursday, the White Mountain National Forest to lift some restrictions on smoking and campfires near public woodlands.

People are still urged to take caution with campfires and never leave them unattended until they are fully extinguished, soaked with water and cold to the touch.

Though the drought is diminishing, state scientists say this winter will need a good snow season in order to recharge depleted groundwater supplies and prevent drought conditions from extending into 2021.

New Hampshire has seen less snowpack and milder winter temperatures in recent years as the climate warms due to the burning of fossil fuels.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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