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Drought Conditions Remain In Much Of Western New England

Much of western New England continues to suffer from a moderate to severe drought. But over the last week there was improvement in some spots.

According to the United States Drought Monitor, portions of Franklin and Berkshire counties in Massachusetts, and into northwestern Connecticut, are no longer in a moderate drought, but are designated as "abnormally dry."

Rich Tinker, a drought expert with the National Weather Service, said many other areas remain parched.

"As you move a little farther east, away from that western tier — still in western Massachusetts and Vermont and Connecticut — you're seeing at least some sort of moderate drought," Tinker said. "And there's an area that's worse than that, right along the Massachusetts-Connecticut border."

The drought map for Connecticut as of September 1, 2020.
Credit U.S. Drought Monitor
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U.S. Drought Monitor
The latest drought map for Connecticut.

Sixteen Massachusetts communities currently have an outdoor water-use restriction in place, according to the state. One of them is Southwick, where of the town's water comes from a ground source.

Randy Brown, Southwick's public works director, said the state has certain metrics the town has to follow.

"When the water flows in the Westfield River drop below a certain threshold for at least three consecutive days, we are mandated to go into a water restriction," Brown said. "I do check the flows daily and it is actually the lowest level I can recall seeing since my [seven years] in this position."

Tinker said rainfall totals are expected to be below normal over the next week. But some relief could be in sight. He said the forecast calls for near-normal rainfall further into the month, and with cooler temperatures, the drought conditions could start to ease.

As of Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, the yearly total for precipitation was more than nine inches below normal. 

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