State

How Maine can be in a drought, even during record rainfall

Maine has been getting more rain and snow each year, in part because of more intense storms brought on by climate change, yet the state is still experiencing droughts, according to weather forecasters and climatologists.

According to the National Weather Service, Maine has abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions in coastal, eastern and far northern parts of the state — so far not as bad as the drought that affected Maine last summer and fall. But precipitation from the “worst” storms in the Northeast has increased by 27 percent since 1901, according to a report by federal scientists published Monday by the New York Times.

On the surface, those facts seem to conflict with one another: How can Maine be getting more precipitation and yet also have crops that suffer from a lack of water?

The answer lies in how and where the rain falls in Maine, according to Sean Birkel, a research professor at University of Maine and the state’s official climatologist.

Drought conditions can spring up relatively quickly, in a matter of weeks, whereas the trend of increasing precipitation is borne out by decades of weather data, he said. And the rain and snow that falls in Maine is not spread evenly throughout the state, which can result in significant differences within Maine from one season to the next.
The Fiddlehead Focus / St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “How Maine can be in a drought, even during record rainfall,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Bill Trotter, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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