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Maine sees third consecutive year of drought

The Gray and Caribou National Weather Service offices predict that warmer than average temperatures will continue throughout this weekend, according to a release.

MAINE, USA — Maine is experiencing its third consecutive year of drought. 

According to a news release issued Friday by the Maine Emergency Management Agency, Maine's Drought Task Force met virtually on Thursday as the U.S. Drought Monitor reports close to 26 percent of Maine is abnormally dry, nearly 32 percent is in moderate drought, and slightly over 8 percent of the state is seeing severe drought. 

The release states that Maine's conditions are not expected to improve short-term. 

The Gray and Caribou National Weather Service offices predict that warmer than average temperatures will continue throughout this weekend.

"By Monday, the weather pattern will begin to shift to a cooler, wetter pattern," the release reports. "Temperatures will be near or slightly below average for the beginning of next week, with rainfall expected on Monday. Currently, rainfall estimates for Monday are ranging around 0.5", with most of the precipitation falling across the north and west."

"This week's heat and humidity is a true reminder of why over 76% of the state's population is in abnormally dry or drought-stricken areas," Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Peter Rogers said in the release. "While we do have some rain on the horizon next week, we do not anticipate it will be the prolonged, soaking rain needed to remedy these conditions. We are getting reports of dry wells in the southern and western parts of the state. We ask citizens who are experiencing dry wells to please report that."

In addition to warmer temperatures continuing to surface this weekend, Maine has also seen a total of 18 private wells reported as dry this season, with 16 of them being residential, according to the release.

"Maine homeowners with dry wells are encouraged to report this information to the Dry Well Survey," the release advises. "If someone has difficulty filling out the survey on their own, they are encouraged to dial 2-1-1 or they can text a Maine zip code to 898-211 for assistance with filling out the survey."

According to the release, the Maine CDC's Drinking Water Program has received "sporadic reports" of low water quantity from public water suppliers throughout Maine, except for in Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Aroostook Counties. 

"The Stonington Water Company has issued mandatory water use restrictions and is currently augmenting its supply with water transported by tanker," the release states.

"For farmers that have invested in irrigation and soil health, crops are looking good," Tom Gordon, public service coordinator at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said in the release. "Drought has increased operating costs, particularly for labor and diesel fuel. For farmers who have not invested in irrigation, the outlook is for reduced quantity and quality of yields, and crop losses if the drought persists or intensifies." 

Gordon explains that hay supply is going to be limited for cattle farmers who rely on hay for their feed throughout the fall and winter.

"The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Maine Forest Service reports there have been 533 total wildfires this year, burning more than 350 acres," the release reports. "There is an increase of roadside fires; some were related to arson, but others were related to mechanical malfunctions. Lightning activity picked up in the south during the storm/wind events mid-July around the Sebago Lake area. The expectation is for an increase in wildfire activity as the drought continues."

Since Maine's conditions aren't expected to improve short-term, Maine's Drought Task Force is set to meet virtually again on Sept. 8 at 1 p.m.

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