The Bulletin Board

Nearly 70 percent of the state no longer experiencing drought or ‘abnormally dry’ conditions

By: - September 2, 2021 1:59 pm
Highway runs through downtown Concord, with the muddy Merrimack River to the right.

Central and southern New Hampshire are no longer dealing with “abnormally dry” conditions. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

While dry conditions have improved in the southern part of the state, the three northernmost counties remain abnormally dry. Parts of Coos County are still experiencing a moderate drought, and one little sliver near the border with Maine is in a severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Over the past few months, the map has shown drought conditions slowly improving – but it’s not over yet.

The northern parts of Grafton and Carroll counties are categorized as abnormally dry. And the report estimates that around 21,500 people are living in areas currently impacted by drought – a significant improvement from conditions in late April and early May, when the entire state was abnormally dry.

The percentage of areas with abnormally dry or drought conditions has been decreasing since June, down to 60 percent in July and hovering around 30 percent since August. Drought conditions in the state have remained the same over the past five reports.

State officials who monitor drought have said they are waiting to see where groundwater levels land in the fall to be sure that the drought has lifted.

Abnormally dry conditions can stunt the growth of crops and lead to increased fire danger, as the level of surface water goes down. Wildfires and ground fires increase when there’s moderate drought. This week’s report shows that 90 percent of the Western United States, including Colorado and Wyoming, is in a drought, with 54 percent in extreme or exceptional drought, the highest drought categories. The National Interagency Fire Center reports that as of Sept. 1, 86 large fires have burned nearly 2.7 million acres across 11 states. Fires in California, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington have forced residents to evacuate.

Drought map for New Hampshire
(Source: U.S. Drought Monitor)

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.