NOAA 99-drought
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pat Viets, Susan Harrison
8/6/99

FOUR STATES IN NORTHEAST HAVE DRIEST GROWING SEASON ON RECORD, NOAA REPORTS

Four states in the Northeast are experiencing the driest growing season in their histories, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today.

From April through July, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Rhode Island were the driest they've been in 105 years of record-keeping by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. Four other states—Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and West Virginia—experienced their second-driest growing season. In addition, April through July ranks as the second driest such period on record for the Northeast as a whole. (The driest was in 1965.)

"We're facing a serious situation with this drought. We in the federal government are working cooperatively and on an interagency basis to deal with the short term impacts and long term realities of what we need to do to better prepare and handle drought emergencies," said Robert Mallett, Deputy Secretary of Commerce.

"This drought didn't happen over night. It started in this region last summer. Since July 1998 rainfall in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and the upper Ohio Valley has been 8 to 18 inches below average. To make matters worse, since April a lingering and irregular jetstream pattern also caused a persistent heatwave that provided another crushing blow, said D. James Baker, Under Secretary for Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.

The drought conditions, which began in 1998 in the mid-Atlantic region, continued through July. For the twelve-month period from August 1998 through July 1999, Maryland experienced its driest such period. Virginia, West Virginia, and New York experienced their second-driest such 12-month period; New Jersey its third; and Delaware its sixth. In contrast, the North Central portion of the country continued its long-term wetness, with North Dakota having its second wettest and Minnesota its fourth wettest August-July period.

Temperature-wise, nearly the entire country from the Great Basin eastward experienced exceptional warmth, with the majority of states ranking within the top five warmest such 12 months since records began.

Regional Outlook

NOAA's National Weather Service forecasts below normal rainfall from now through August 9. Only 0.25" to 0.5" is anticipated in most of the mid-Atlantic, southern New England, New Jersey, and southern and western Pennsylvania. Rainfall totals greater than one inch will be seen in northern New York, far western West Virginia, extreme southern Ohio, and northeastern Kentucky.

Relatively cool weather is expected to continue from now through August 9 for the mid-Atlantic, northeast and upper Ohio Valley. Daily highs are expected to average at least 4 degrees F below normal from New York state northeastward and about 8 degrees F below normal in northern Maine.

For the ensuing five days (August 10-14), below normal rainfall is expected to persist from New York state northeastward. In contrast, above-normal rain is forecast for all but northernmost Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, southwestern Pennsylvania, and most of Ohio. Below-normal temperatures are expected to persist, except in Kentucky.

Note to Editors: NOAA's National Climatic Data Center defines the Northeast as: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

NOAA's Drought Information Center is online at: http://www.drought.noaa.gov/