Drought | New Hampshire Public Radio

Drought

U.S. Drought Monitor

With dry weather in the forecast, experts say southern New Hampshire could be headed for a severe drought within the next three weeks.

The southern half of the state has been experiencing moderate drought conditions since June.

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Dan Barrick / NHPR

Nearly half of New Hampshire is still in a drought.

But the dry conditions are getting a little better, according to the latest data from the National Drought Monitor.

It says 49 percent of the state is in a moderate drought, and 92 percent is abnormally dry.

A month ago, nearly three-quarters of the state was in that moderate drought category.

The dry conditions are concentrated in the Southern tier and lower Lakes region, along with parts of the Upper and Monadnock Valleys.

Sam Evans-Brown/NHPR

Moderate drought conditions across New Hampshire have elevated the risk of wildfire.

The N.H. Forest Protection Bureau and the N.H. Fire Marshal’s Office say dry weather has increased the amount of potential fuel that can easily ignite and become a wildfire.

Southern New Hampshire Now Officially in a Drought

Jun 25, 2020
U.S. Drought Monitor

Southern New Hampshire is now officially in a drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The state’s Department of Environmental Services says low snowpack and dry weather earlier in the year have led to this point.

“In some parts of the state we are 7 inches of rain behind where we would be on an average year,” says Thomas O’Donovan, director of the department’s Water Division. “And in most of the state we’re about 3 and a half to 4 inches behind.”

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Near-drought conditions in southern New Hampshire are straining vegetable farmers in the midst of planting season, after more than a month without substantial rainfall.

The state expects to soon declare a drought in the southern tier and lower Lakes Region, after an abnormally dry spring and a winter without much snow to recharge streams and groundwater.

Jessica Hunt / NHPR

Southern New Hampshire looks to be headed for a drought this summer, after more than a month without any significant rainfall following a low-snow winter.

The state got about half an inch of rain on May 15. 

State regulators are monitoring how this winter’s low snowpack could affect water supplies in the dry summer months.

The state has between 60 and 75 percent less snow on the ground than average right now. State water division director Tom O’Donovan says that's just one source of the state’s drinking water and other water supplies – in reservoirs, lakes and wells.

Courtesy Heidi Asbjornsen

The specter of drought is often raised in these early days of summer. And for good reason, though water levels have returned to normal around the New Hampshire, state officials are still warning residents to remain cautious after last summer drought. And while we often fret about the health of our lawns and our gardens, Dave (from the Forest Society) wanted to address drought resistance among his favorite species, trees.

Mark Nozell / Flickr CC

Regulators are planning new efforts to keep the state’s rivers from running dry, and they’re taking public input on which rivers to study next.

The state’s instream flow studies will look at how much water runs through a river under different conditions – say, in drought – and at how animals, plants and people like to use that water.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Data from the U.S. drought monitor shows that dry conditions peaked in mid-July, when nearly two-thirds of the state was in a moderate drought.

Officials asked residents to conserve water amid those conditions, fearing drinking water supplies could be affected.

But cooling temperatures and steady rains that fell in recent weeks may have helped replenish groundwater reserves.

Now, only small portions of the North Country are experiencing abnormal dryness.

Flickr Creative Commons | blueskyfantasie

Every other Friday on Morning Edition NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown tracks down answers to questions about the outdoors for our listeners in a segment we call “Ask Sam.” 

Protecting Water Resources in Drought

Jul 23, 2018

More than half of New Hampshire is in moderate drought, and despite heavy rain these past few days, local and state officials and businesses that depend on water are strategizing to conserve for when it is scarce. How do communities, and the state, respond to extreme weather conditions, including drought, in order to protect their water resources?

NHDES

State officials gathered Thursday for an update on the drought that now covers all of Southern and Central New Hampshire.

They typically hold this meeting once a drought has persisted for several weeks. This one began in May and may spread to the whole state by fall.

The state’s last drought management working group meeting was in 2016, when drought came on more slowly than this year’s, but ended up lasting longer and being more severe.  

DES

Nearly half of New Hampshire is officially in a drought, with the whole state experiencing unusual dryness – and forecasts predict more serious, statewide drought by mid-fall.

It’s prompted state regulators to recommend limiting outdoor water use until conditions improve.

Despite a bout of heavy rain last month, the state is getting dryer.

All of Merrimack, Sullivan, Strafford and Belknap Counties are now in moderate drought, along with parts of Northern and Southern New Hampshire.

Despite some recent rain, New Hampshire is currently classified as "abnormally dry" by the National Drought Mitigation Center. The lack of rainfall has forced many New Hampshire farmers to turn to irrigation. 

"We've spent a lot of money. It's a huge pain in the neck," says Chuck Souther, owner of Apple Hill Farm in Concord, who had to irrigate this year's strawberry crop. "We're much happier when rain falls out of the sky." 

If the dry period doesn't let up, Souther and other farmers say their apples, pumpkins, and even next year's berry crops could be affected. 

Courtesy Heidi Asbjornsen

The specter of drought is often raised in these early days of summer. And for good reason, though water levels have returned to normal around the New Hampshire, state officials are still warning residents to remain cautious after last summer drought. And while we often fret about the health of our lawns and our gardens, Dave (from the Forest Society) wanted to address drought resistance among his favorite species, trees.

 

N.H. Agriculture Commissioner Announces Retirement

Sep 7, 2017
NHPR / Michael Brindley

The head of the state’s agriculture department is retiring after a decade on the job.

Courtesy Heidi Asbjornsen

The specter of drought is often raised in these early days of summer. And for good reason, though water levels have returned to normal around the New Hampshire, state officials are still warning residents to remain cautious after last summer drought. And while we often fret about the health of our lawns and our gardens, Dave (from the Forest Society) wanted to address drought resistance among his favorite species, trees.

Credit US Drought Mitigation Center

After last year’s severe drought conditions, many New Hampshire communities have seen a return to normal water levels. But state officials are still warning residents to remain cautious.

 

  The city of Manchester has lifted voluntary water restrictions put in place last fall during a drought because water levels are back at normal levels.

WMUR-TV reports Mayor Ted Gatsas said Monday that the city would be lifting any restrictions on water use, allowing people to freely water their lawns or fill their pools.

Officials announced that Lake Massabesic in Manchester and Tower Hill Pond in Auburn are finally at full capacity.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

State forestry officials are warning warm, dry weather is creating an increased threat of wildfires, especially in the southern part of the state.

northeast naturalist via Flickr Creative Commons

Last year's drought in New Hampshire was tough on farmers and towns. But it turns out to have been good for moose.

Preliminary numbers from a project that puts tracking collars on moose show that only one of the calves — the most vulnerable group — died from winter ticks this year. A year ago, nearly 75 percent of the calves tracked died.

Moose biologist Kristine Rines says many of the blood-sucking ticks died because they were deprived of moisture. But the ticks still have a long-term advantage, with shorter winters and moose density on their side.

Bi-partisan frustration rises in the Granite State over President Trumps unsubstantiated charges of New Hampshire voter fraud.  The New Hampshire House votes to kill a Right-to-Work bill, which would have impacted how unions collect fees. The policy has been a priority for Republicans, who control the House, Senate and Governor’s Office for the first time in more than a decade.  And the Executive Council confirms the Governor's choice for Education Commissioner, Frank Edelblut. 


Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

Dairy farmers in the Granite State hurt by the recent drought are one step closer to a helping hand after the senate voted in favor of a financial relief program Thursday.

U.S. Drought Monitor

 

  New Hampshire's climatologist has announced that the southern portion of the state is no longer experiencing extreme drought thanks to recent rain and snow.

WMUR-TV reports that drought conditions in the region have been upgraded from extreme to severe.

State climatologist Mary Stampone says the flow of rivers and streams are now closer to normal, but New Hampshire isn't in the clear just yet. Residents relying on wells have been advised that they may still experience water shortages due to the ground's inability to absorb as much water as usual.

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

New Hampshire’s struggling dairy farmers may soon get some help from a relief program in the works at the Statehouse. 

Backed by the majority leaders in both the New Hampshire House and Senate, the Joint Dairy Farmers Task Force moved Monday to aid farmers affected by this year’s drought.

The program is aimed at dairy farmers who have suffered financial losses from “unreasonably low” milk prices, and meager feed crops.

Nineteen of New Hampshire’s 120 dairy farms stopped producing milk this year.

 

The long-running drought in much of the Northeastern United States is expected to persist through the winter.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows dry conditions continuing through February throughout New England and the only relief coming in parts of upstate New York, where some drought-stricken areas could see improving conditions.

The drought is the worst seen in more than a decade. It has been devastating to farmers and resulted in water restrictions in many places. It has dried up drinking wells and dropped lake levels.

**RCB**/flickr

 

Officials in Exeter say the town plans to have police enforce new penalties outlined under a water ban law, including fines and disrupted service.

The Portsmouth Herald reports selectmen voted Monday night to approve the ordinance following a public hearing.

Under the law, a written warning will be sent for a first violation. Subsequent offenders could face a $1000 fine and a third violation could result in a $500 fine and discontinued water service.

Jessica Hunt

The Granite State is dangerously dry. New Hampshire has received about half of the normal rainfall this year; as the colder weather sets in, we talk to experts about the effects of water scarcity, and how the state is handling the drought. 


When people hear the word drought, they likely think of California. But there's also an extreme drought in parts of New England. The Northeast is experiencing the worst drought in more than a decade.

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