BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — If your lawn seems to look more like straw, and your garden seems to be screaming for more water, you’re not imagining things.
According to the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NOAA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, parts of Western New York is now in a “moderate drought”.
So how do we know this fact, and what does it mean for you?
The experts at the National Drought Mitigation Center uses a number of parameters to come to a conclusion as to whether or not a region is in drought. Traditional methods to determine this designation include comparing observed precipitation with that of what’s normal, examining soil moisture levels and comparing those with what is normal, and comparing observed crop conditions to that of what’s deemed normal by farmers. Scientists also use river gauges placed in rivers, creeks, and streams, as well as reservoirs, looking at the level and flow of moving water. In addition, they also use measurements of groundwater levels and compare those levels to those that are normally observed.
The collaboration by scientists (meteorologists, climatologists, and statisticians alike), allow for this particular drought index to be unique. After examining all of the aforementioned data, a number of other inputs and indices are evaluated to come up with the orange, brown, and yellow blobs you see used on our weathercasts to show just “how dry we are”.
And the present tense here is important. The Drought Index is NOT a forecast, but rather a weekly assessment of conditions. It’s really a look backwards rather than forwards. Because drought is a slow moving hazard, you can bet your lucky stars that an area will still be deemed as being drought if no rainfall occurs. The assessment is a weekly one, so if Western New York remains largely without showers, the drought status will only worsen.
Right now, a region from Niagara Falls south to Buffalo and east into Genesee and Wyoming County has been upgraded to “moderate drought” status, from “abnormally dry”. At this stage, some damage to crops and pastures may be realized, along with a much higher risk for water shortages (if they are not already happening).
The Drought Monitor is updated every Thursday to account for conditions observed the week prior. The 7 Weather Team will continue to follow the latest updates and bring them to you each week as conditions develop.