Local Politics

Maine’s Summer-Long Drought Put on Hold

Yes, it really has been a hot summer in Maine. Just looking around campus at all the yellow grass proves it. According to the US Drought Monitor, the lack of rainfall has finally caught up with the state, but the recent downpours as summer turns to fall seems to have helped with the issue. However, whether or not the land can recover will be up to the amount of rainfall in the coming months.

On August 23, just before the wet week, the state drought watch reported 20.92% of the state in moderate drought and 8.15% in severe drought. Almost half the state was seeing abnormally dry conditions. It looked like this for most of the summer.

Much to the dismay of beach-going tourists and the celebration of the farmers, rain made a comeback for the last week of summer. Those drought numbers dropped to 11.70% moderate drought and 3.38% severe drought. The same portion of the state, however, is still reporting abnormally dry conditions.

The rain proved to be too little too late. Maine’s iconic blueberry farms saw a 60% loss of yield this season, according to a spokesman for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. In Whitefield, the Sheepscot Valley Farm complained that poor regrowth of hay has led to them thinning their herd. Annie Watson, one of the owners of the farm, told Bangor Daily News, “Our pastures all dried up, basically burned up worse than I’ve ever seen in the past nine years that we’ve been farming here.”

Short rainstorms won’t entirely fix the problem. Nicholas Stasulis, Maine’s field office chief for the New England Water Science Center, warned that Maine needs to see steady rainfall to replenish the groundwater levels. If that doesn’t happen this fall, next summer might be just as difficult. 

Photo Credit: Markus Spiske
Photo Credit: Markus Spiske

Categories: Local Politics

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