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Regional Drought Update Date
January 24, 2023
Site Section
Drought Status Update

Drought Status Update for the Northeast


DEWS Regions:
Update Status:

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

Most Areas of the Northeast Have Recovered from the Drought.

Key Points

  • Moderate drought (D1) persists along a sliver of the south shore of Long Island.
  • Abnormally dry (D0) conditions are scattered throughout the rest of New York and New England.
  • With snowfall running below normal for most of the region, precipitation events in the spring will be important for soil and aquifer recharge.
  • Drought conditions have improved. In mid-December, almost 14% of the Northeast was abnormally dry with just over 3% still experiencing moderate (D1) to severe (D2) drought. At that time, Massachusetts had just over 3% extreme drought coverage. (See blue statistics bar below for current status by category.)

 

Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor | Northeast

Current U.S. Drought Monitor map for the Northeast Drought Early Warning System with data valid for December 6, 2022. The U.S. Drought Monitor is updated each Thursday to show the location and intensity of drought across the country. 

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor:

  • Moderate drought (D1) conditions exist in 0.36% of the region.
  • Abnormally dry (D0) conditions exist in 7.21% of the region.
U.S. Drought Monitor Categories
Value Map Hex Color
D0 - Abnormally Dry #ffff00
D1 - Moderate Drought #ffcc99
D2 - Severe Drought #ff6600
D3 - Extreme Drought #ff0000
D4 - Exceptional Drought #660000
Main Stats
7.21%
of the Northeast is Abnormally Dry (D0)
0.36%
of the Northeast is in Moderate Drought (D1)
2.84%
of the Northeast was in drought 4 weeks ago

Current Conditions

U.S. Drought Monitor 4-Week Change Map

Since December 20, many areas of drought and dryness in the Northeast have seen a one-category improvement, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
U.S. Drought Monitor change map, showing where drought and dryness have improved or worsened from December 20, 2022 to January 17, 2023. Source: National Drought Mitigation Center.

Accumulated Precipitation Departure from Normal

Continued dryness in eastern Massachusetts and precipitation deficits in the Spring could lay the groundwork for a rapid return to drought conditions in the summer.

Sites across the Northeast have seen a reduction in their precipitation deficits in January, though many sites are still below normal.
Departure from normal precipitation (inches) for Portland Area, ME (blue), Concord Area, NH (black), Boston Area, MA (green), Providence Area, RI (orange), Bridgeport Area, CT (purple), Islip Area, NY (red), and Rochester Area, NY (yellow). Source: ACIS.

Northeast Snow Survey Update

The most recent snow survey map from mid-January shows snow water equivalent (SWE) of over an inch in portions of northern New England and northern New York, with little to no snow water equivalent for the rest of the Northeast. The next snow survey is January 30–February 1. Snow survey maps are available on the Northeast Regional Climate Center’s website.

Snow water equivalent values are between 0 to 3 inches in much of the Northeast, except for some stations in New Hampshire and Maine.
Snow water equivalent (SWE) in inches for stations across the Northeast. Valid January 15–19, 2023. Source: Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Snowfall has been below normal since December 1 for much of New York and New England, with deficits (as of January 23) of over 12 inches in areas such as Boston, MA, and Hartford, CT, and deficits of over 36 inches in Rochester and Syracuse, NY.

A storm early this week, from January 22–23, dropped 6-12 inches of snow on portions of central and eastern New York, northern Massachusetts, and northern New England, with 12–18 inches in parts of New Hampshire and Maine. This helped inch season-to-date snowfall totals closer to normal; however, deficits generally remain.

In addition, outside of those areas snowfall was limited. Central Park and Kennedy Airport, NY, had yet to see measurable snow as of January 23, six weeks later than usual. When measurable snow finally falls at these sites, it will be among their three latest on record, with the record latest currently being January 29. The snowy exceptions were the Buffalo and Watertown areas of New York, which saw significant lake-effect snowfall events in November and December. Another storm is expected to bring snowfall to the region on Wednesday, January 25.

State-Reported Conditions and Impacts

New England 

Connecticut

Maine

Massachusetts

New Hampshire

New York

Rhode Island

Vermont

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

Find local drought information by address, city or zip code on Drought.gov.

Outlooks

March–May Precipitation and Temperature Outlooks

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center's seasonal temperature outlook for March–May (issued January 19) continues to support the warmer than normal trend that was expected for the Northeast. Similarly, the seasonal precipitation outlook continues to suggest wetter than normal conditions only for western New York state. 

From March to May 2023, odds favor above-normal temperatures across the Northeast.
NOAA Climate Prediction Center temperature outlook for March–May 2023, showing the probability of above-normal or below-normal conditions. Issued January 19, 2023. Source: Climate Prediction Center.
From March to May 2023, odds favor above-normal precipitation in western New York, with equal chances of above- or below-normal precipitation in the rest of the Northeast.
NOAA Climate Prediction Center precipitation outlook for March–May 2023, showing the probability of above-normal or below-normal conditions. Issued January 19, 2023. Source: Climate Prediction Center.

8–14 Day Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks

According to the Climate Prediction Center's 8–14 day outlooks (valid January 31–February 6), odds favor below-normal temperatures across the Northeast. There is a greater likelihood of above-normal precipitation in most of the region, with near-normal conditions favored in northern Maine.

From January 31 to February 6, odds favor below-normal temperatures across the Northeast.
NOAA Climate Prediction Center 8–14 day temperature outlook for the Northeast, showing the probability of above-normal, below-normal, or normal conditions from January 31–February 6, 2023. Source: Climate Prediction Center via the Northeast DEWS Dashboard.
From January 31 to February 6, odds favor above-normal precipitation across most of the Northeast, and near-normal conditions in northern Maine..
NOAA Climate Prediction Center 8–14 day precipitation outlook for the Northeast, showing the probability of above-normal, below-normal, or normal conditions from January 31–February 6, 2023. Source: Climate Prediction Center via the Northeast DEWS Dashboard.

 

Seasonal Drought Outlook: January 19–April 30

The Climate Prediction Center's seasonal drought outlook notes, with moderate confidence, that a nearly drought-free status is possible in the coming months. February, March and April are climatologically favored for recharge of soil moisture, but there are concerns about the lack of snow so far this season—as noted in the Snow Survey update above. The lack of snow threatens groundwater recharge and any hedge against the onset of this primary drought indicator come summer. 

View the Climate Prediction Center's full drought outlook discussion or Climate.gov's January 2023 U.S. Climate Outlook for more information.

Through April 2023, drought is not predicted to develop in the northeast United States, and existing drought will be removed.
Seasonal (3-month) drought outlook for the Northeast U.S., predicting where drought will persist, develop, improve, or be removed from January 19–April 30, 2023. Source: Climate Prediction Center, via Drought.gov.

What We Are Watching

Resources

Contacts for More Information

Sylvia Reeves
Regional Drought Information Coordinator (Northeast DEWS)
NOAA/CIRES/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)
Email: sylvia.reeves@noaa.gov

Ellen L. Mecray
Regional Climate Services Director, Eastern Region
NOAA/NESDIS/National Centers for Environmental Information
Email: Ellen.L.Mecray@noaa.gov

Prepared By

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

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

Ellen Mecray
Regional Climate Services Director, Eastern Region, NOAA

David Hollinger
USDA Climate Hubs

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.