Severe drought in New York and New Jersey persist this week and have expanded into parts of the South Shore of Long Island, Dutchess and Putnam counties, and Northern New Jersey, according to the latest data released Thursday from the federal authorities that track conditions nationwide.
Parts of New York City, including Staten Island and Brooklyn were first upgraded from moderate to severe drought on August 9th, according to models from the National Drought Mitigation Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Severe drought conditions, which were just affecting a tiny corner of New Jersey last week, have now expanded through several counties including Middlesex, Somerset and Union, the latest models show.
“Things are expanding and intensifying, if slowly,” said Rich Tinker, a drought specialist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, though he added mid-way through August, the risk that these conditions worsen dramatically is limited. “We are moving forward into a cooler and cooler time of the year. That means less water demand.”
According to National Weather Service Meteorologist James Connolly, so far this August just .78 inches of rain have fallen in Central Park — 1.52 inches below the average for the last 30 years. The dearth of rainfall is similar to conditions experienced in the summer of 2016, according to Jessica Spaccio, a Climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center conditions.
On Tuesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul expanded the state’s drought watch to include most of the state, save the metropolitan area and northern part of the state around the Adirondacks. She asked New Yorkers in those areas to limit watering their lawns, and urged anyone camping in the backcountry to take care when building fires. Most of the state is currently rated at a high risk for wildfires, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.
Firefighters have already tackled two wildfires this month; one in Harriman State Park and one in Rockland County, according to the state.
Earlier this month, officials in New Jersey declared a drought watch for the entire state. Some towns and counties have gone further, asking residents to voluntarily reduce their water consumption, and setting up alternate days where people can water lawns.
New York City’s Parks Department recommended watering street trees, especially saplings that need more water to thrive.