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Regional Drought Update Date
November 16, 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.

Amid Insufficient Precipitation, Drought and Dryness Expanded in Western New York.

Key Points:

  • Abnormal Dryness (D0) and drought (D1–D2) expanded slightly in western New York, where streamflow and groundwater levels have been below normal. 
  • As of November 14, 2023, 5.6% of New York state is in drought (D1–D2), impacting an estimated 827,478 people. This is a 2.6% increase in drought coverage from October 31. 
  • Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions were also introduced on Cape Cod and the Islands based on below-normal precipitation and sluggish recovery of groundwater levels.
  • The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for November 25–December 8 favors above-normal temperatures and equal chances of above- or below-normal precipitation. Despite the prospect of precipitation in the next seven days, little improvement is expected for New York.
Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor | Northeast

U.S. Drought Monitor Categories

Main Stats
of the Northeast is Abnormally Dry (D0)
of New York is Abnormally Dry (D0)
of New York is in drought (D1–D2)

Current Conditions

According to the latest USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Crop Progress & Conditions Report, all western New York reporting sites are closing out the growing season with 4-week precipitation deficits well over 1.5 inches. Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire all have some stations with 4-week precipitation deficits over 2 inches.

Accumulated Precipitation Departure from Normal

Precipitation deficits have been increasing at sites across western New York. Nantucket Memorial Airport in Massachusetts also has an accumulated precip departure of more than 6 inches.
Departure from normal precipitation (inches) for the following sites: Buffalo Area, New York (blue), Warsaw 6 SW, New York (black), Dansville, New York (green), Penn Yan Airport, New York  (orange),  Aurora Research Farm, New York (purple), and Nantucket Memorial Airport, Massachusetts (red). Valid November 16, 2023. Source: Applied Climate Information System (ACIS).

7-Day Streamflow Conditions: Northeast U.S.

7-day average streamflows are below normal across western New York and parts of Massachusetts, near Cape Cod.
7-day average streamflows for the Northeast U.S., compared to historical conditions for the same time period. Valid November 15, 2023. Oranges and red hues indicate below-normal streamflows, while blue hues indicate above-normal streamflows. Source: U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch.

Streamflow Conditions: Tonawanda Creek, Batavia, New York

The hydrograph below shows streamflow conditions at a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) site on Tonawanda Creek at Batavia in western New York, which is currently in Moderate Drought (D1). The period of record for this site is 78 years, and currently in mid-November streamflows are in the lowest 5th percentile for this period in history. As noted in the September 29 Northeast Drought Status Update, during a few days in late September the observed daily mean streamflow was the lowest for that day in history.

Current streamflow (daily average discharge) at Tonawanda Creek in western New York is 15.2 cubic feet/second, which is in the bottom 5th percentile for flows over the past 78 years. In January 2023, streamflows were above normal, but in September they hit a record low.
Timseries showing the daily average discharge (cubic feet/second) for the USGS streamflow site at Tonawanda Creek in Batavia, New York. 2023 daily average discharge (black line) is shown alongside percentile ranges for historical streamflow conditions at this site. Data valid November 15, 2023. Source: U.S. Geological Survey via the Northeast DEWS Dashboard.

Tonawanda Creek: August 23 vs. October 23

On August 23, Tonawanda Creek at Batavia was experiencing flows of about 8.4 cubic feet per second, which is in the bottom 2nd percentile of historical streamflows.
On October 23, Tonawanda Creek at Batavia was experiencing flows of about 12.3 cubic feet per second, about a 5th percentile flow.
USGS streamgage at Tonawanda Creek in Batavia, New York (04217000) on August 23, 2023 (top) and October 23, 2023 (bottom). On August 23, the flow was about 8.4 cubic feet per second (cfs)—a 2nd-percentile flow for the period of record (i.e., 98% of the time that flow is equal or exceeded). On October 23, the flow was about 12.3 cfs—about a 5th-percentile flow. Currently (November 15, 2023), the creek is flowing at about 16 cfs. Photo courtesy of the USGS New York Water Science Center.

Groundwater Levels: Northeast U.S.

Groundwater levels are below-normal across much of western New York, where drought and dryness persist. At one U.S. Geological Survey well in Gainesville, New York, the groundwater level dropped to 13.91 feet below the land surface, as of November 15, 2023. This is the 2nd lowest on record for this date in the past 16 years.

A Condition Monitoring Observer Report from Wyoming, New York on November 2 indicated families were experiencing depleted wells and difficulty finding drilling companies that could get them into their schedules to dig new/deeper wells. The drilling companies were responding to numerous calls, and a waiting list was in place. Meanwhile, residents reported that their daily lives were impacted as they were forced to buy water for drinking and cooking, take fewer showers, and reduce clothes and dishwashing.

Groundwater levels are below normal in western New York and a few sites in central New York, as well as a few sites in coastal Massachusetts.
U.S. Geological Survey groundwater data for the Northeast U.S., showing the percentile of the most recently measured groundwater levels relative to long-term monthly statistics. Updated November 15, 2023. Source: U.S. Geological Survey via the Northeast DEWS Dashboard.


The 3–4 week temperature probabilities favor above-normal temperatures for the Northeast, with equal chances of above- or below-normal precipitation From November 25–December 8, 2023. As a result, little improvement is expected for all areas experiencing Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions and drought (D1–D2).

Week 3–4  Precipitation Outlook

From November 25 to December 8, the Northeast has equal chances of above- or below-normal precipitation.
Week 3–4 precipitation outlook, showing the probability (percent chance) of above- or below-normal precipitation across the U.S. from November 25–December 8, 2023. Issued November 10, 2023. Source: NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Featured Resources

What We Are Watching

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
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.