Each year we keep hearing about how it's going to be the hottest year. This year is already on track to be the new hottest year on record. On top of having such a warm year, Massachusetts is facing its own type of climatological change.
Massachusetts has been in a drought for quite sometime, which has gotten worse throughout the summer with about 75% of the state being in a severe drought. This has affected some companies here in the state, such as farmers or any company that locally depends on Massachusetts agriculture.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a press release this summer, some livestock producers in 11 Massachusetts Counties, which included counties like Middlesex, Plymouth, and Worcester Counties, reached out for assistance to the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for grazing losses incurred in 2016.
This map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows moderate to extreme drought conditions for much of Massachusetts.
Despite having a wet October and with some snow already on the ground, the state stills remains in a drought, and it looks to stay that way dependent on the winter outlook.
Senior Service Hydrologist Nicole Belk and Meteorologist Alan Dunham from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Taunton explain how the drought started and what is needed in order for the conditions to improve going into the winter.
“Regarding the forecast for looking to the winter, it doesn’t look like we’re going to see significant drought relief on the horizon, so the drought will likely persist through the winter months.”
According to Belk, the states Drought Management Task Force (DMTF), which is responsible for areas likely to be affected by drought conditions, has issued a drought warning for much of the state with the exception of the Cape and islands. In order to alleviate the drought situation, there would need to be normal to above normal precipitation through the winter and spring months.
The impacts haven't just been for the soil moisture. Ponds, rivers, streams, reservoir levels and ground water have also been impacted and need that extra melt from the winter snow packs in order to improve.
Meteorological Terms Explained