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Regional Drought Update Date
September 29, 2023
Site Section
Drought Status Update

Drought Early Warning Update for the Northeast

DEWS Regions:
Update Status:

NIDIS and its partners will issue future Northeast Drought Early Warning Updates as conditions evolve.

Dry Conditions Persist In Western New York; New England and New York Anticipate Vibrant Fall Colors.

For more information, visit the Northeast DEWS Dashboard.

Key Points

  • Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness(D0) lingering in western New York are supported by below to much-below streamflows in the 7-, 14-, and 28-day periods. 
  • Eastward expansion of additional dryness should be monitored in the next few weeks.
Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor | Northeast

U.S. Drought Monitor Categories

Current Conditions

New York Streamflow Conditions

As of September 27, many real-time streamflows are below normal in Western New York, while streamflows are near to above normal across the rest of the state.
Real-time streamflow conditions at U.S. Geological Survey streamgages in New York compared to historical conditions for the same day of the year. Valid September 28, 2023. Source: U.S. Geological Survey. Map from

Streamflow Conditions: Tonawanda Creek in Western New York

The hydrograph below shows streamflow conditions at a USGS site on Tonawanda Creek in western New York. The period of record for this site is 78 years, and on a few days in late September the observed daily mean streamflow was the lowest for that day in history.


Daily average discharge (cubic feet/second) for the U.S. Geological Survey streamgage at Tonawanda Creek at Batavia, New York. Discharge for October 1, 2022–September 26, 2023 (black line) is shown alongside historical conditions. Source: USGS WaterWatch.
For USGS streamgage Tonawanda Creek at Batavia, NY (04217000), discharge was 120 cubic feet per second on April 28, 2023, but it was only 8.4 cubic feet per second on September 28.
USGS streamgage at Tonawanda Creek in Batavia, NY (04217000) on April 28, 2023 (left) and August 23, 2023 (right). On April 28, the daily average discharge was 120 cubic feet per second (cfs)—a streamflow that is about the period of record median or 50th-percentile flow. On August 23, the flow was about 8.4 cfs—a 2nd-percentile flow (i.e., 98% of the time that flow is equal or exceeded). Currently (September 28, 2023), the creek is flowing at about 2.5 cfs, which is less than the 1-percentile of flow for the period of record. Photo courtesy of the USGS New York Water Science Center.

New England Groundwater Levels

Groundwater status in western New York supports the entrenched drought and hints at an eastward expansion of dryness.

Groundwater levels are near to above normal in much of the Northeast. Below-normal groundwater is present in western New York.
U.S. Geological Survey groundwater data for New England, showing the percentile of the most recently measured groundwater levels relative to long-term monthly statistics. Updated September 28, 2023. Source: U.S. Geological Survey via the Northeast DEWS Dashboard.

Accumulated Precipitation Departure from Normal: 2020–2023

Recent rainfall has led to a reduction (but not elimination) of precipitation deficits for Islip, New York, Boston, Massachusetts, Portland, Maine, and Burlington, Vermont. Buffalo, New York has above-normal accumulated precipitation.
Timeseries graph showing accumulated precipitation departures from normal (in inches) from January 1, 2020 to September 28, 2023. Precipitation departures are shown for Portland Area, Maine (blue); Boston Area, Massachusetts (green); Buffalo Area, NY (purple); Burlington Area, Vermont (black); and Islip Area, New York (orange). Source: ACIS.

State-Reported Conditions and Impacts




New Hampshire

New York

Rhode Island


Find additional impacts through the National Drought Mitigation Center’s Drought Impact Reporter

Visit the new state pages for additional maps and resources. Or, find local drought information by address, city or zip code on 


The Seasonal Drought Outlook indicates that drought removal is likely for western New York. The 3-4 week precipitation outlook supports this remediation, or at least a halt in the advancement of the dryness. The precipitation outlook shows western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania watersheds have above-normal chances for precipitation. However, the 3-4 week temperature Outlook, showing chances for above-normal temperatures in western New York, raises the potential for enough of a delay in fall cooling to maintain this area of drought. 

Seasonal Drought Outlook: September 21–December 31

From September 21 to December 31, drought removal is projected for the small area of drought in western New York.
U.S. seasonal (3-month) drought outlook, showing where drought is projected to develop, persist, improve, or be removed from September 21–December 31, 2023. Issued September 21, 2023. Source: Climate Prediction Center. map from

Week 3–4 Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks: October 7–20, 2023

For October 7th to 20th, odds favor above-normal temperatures across the Northeast.
Week 3–4 temperature outlook, showing the probability (percent chance) of above- or below-normal temperatures across the U.S. from October 7–20, 2023. Issued September 22, 2023. Source: Climate Prediction Center.
For October 7th to 20th,  odds favor above-normal precipitation across the Northeast.
Week 3–4 precipitation outlook, showing the probability (percent chance) of above- or below-normal precipitation across the U.S. from October 7–20, 2023. Issued September 22, 2023. Source: Climate Prediction Center.

For More Information

Featured News & Resources

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Hosts State and Federal Partners to Discuss Drought

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts hosted a meeting of state and federal partners to discuss national, regional, and state drought resources at the USGS New England Water Science Center, in Northborough, MA. To enhance the existing drought monitoring network, Massachusetts is exploring opportunities to establish a statewide mesonet with in-situ soil moisture monitoring that aligns with remotely sensed satellite observations.The need for additional research and regional case studies on precipitation effectiveness—especially snow water equivalent (SWE)—was highlighted. The precipitation effectiveness data will help monitor rapid onset droughts and support the analysis of fire fuels in densely wooded areas of the state that are adjacent to highly populated areas. 

The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture will soon release an economic impact report that will quantify specialty crop and animal feed losses associated with weather events during the 2023 calendar year, including the deep freeze in February; the hard frost in May; and the rainfall and flooding that impacted a large amount of vegetable crop, field crops, and hay and forage crops in July. Also, a recently released  disaster recovery grant helped the agency develop a structure to capture impacts by crop for future events, including drought cycles.

Additional Resources

Contacts for More Information

Sylvia Reeves
Regional Drought Information Coordinator (Northeast DEWS)
NOAA/CIRES/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)

Ellen L. Mecray
Regional Climate Services Director, Eastern Region
NOAA/NESDIS/National Centers for Environmental Information

Prepared By

Sylvia Reeves
NOAA/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), CIRES

Samantha Borisoff, Jessica Spaccio, Keith Eggleston, Art DeGaetano, Natalie Umphlett
Northeast Regional Climate Center

Ellen Mecray
Regional Climate Services Director, Eastern Region, NOAA

Gardner Bent
USGS New England Water Science Center

In partnership with National Weather Service Offices of the Northeast and State Climate Offices of the Northeast. 

Special Thanks

This drought status update is issued in partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to communicate concern for drought expansion and intensification within the Northeast U.S. based on recent conditions and the forecasts and outlooks. NIDIS and its partners will issue future drought status updates as conditions evolve.