Despite Rains Severe Drought Continues

07.29.16 | Bob Price

Severe drought conditions remain across Western New York, despite the healthy rains received on Monday. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report was released Thursday and it shows that the areas under severe drought conditions actually expanded a bit from last week.

Parts of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties were added to the area identified as under a severe drought. 

Between one and three inches of rain fell across Western New York earlier this week. While the rain was a very welcomed sight, it did very little towards improving stream flows, underground water tables or reservoir levels. What is needed is more numerous widespread rainfall events like that without long dry stretches in between.

Droughts across Western New York are not all that rare actually. Looking back at our climate record drought conditions have occurred five times in the past 20 years. The worst droughts occurred in 2007, 2001 and 1999 and in all of those years conditions improved fairly quickly in the Fall with the one exception being in 1999 when drought conditions did not ease until the following Winter.

Unlike in western parts of the country where droughts can last for years, droughts experienced around here are usually seasonal and rarely last longer than five to six months. The one exception was in the mid 1960's when a drought last from 1965 through 1966.

The outlook, however is not good. Looking out two weeks our dry weather pattern looks to continue with only a few feeble chances for showers. One question we hear often is whether or not there is any correlation between a dry Summer and the following Winter. The answer is no as in some cases a dry Winter followed a drought or, as in the case of 2001 and 2007, big snows came the following Winter. Nearly 133" of snow fell at the Buffalo/Niagara airport following  the drought of  2001.