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'Moderate drought' conditions grip Niagara Frontier; little rain expected before Friday

A moderate drought is gripping the Niagara Frontier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The agency’s latest regional drought monitor categorized all of Niagara and Orleans – along with northern Erie and western Genesee counties and areas of the Finger Lakes and the Catskills – as places in New York that moved from “abnormally dry” into “moderate drought.”

Abnormally dry conditions persist in much of the rest of the state and Northeast U.S.

A dearth of precipitation – more than a half-foot below average since April 1 – has accompanied warmer than average temperatures.

The signs of that are everywhere.

Lawns aren’t growing. Flower beds are wilting. And, creek beds are starting to running dry.

“It’s getting abnormally dry,” said Steve Welch, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

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The lack of rain also causes ripple effects across the landscape in places seen and unseen.

“The water table drops and runoff decreases for the stream and creek levels,” Welch said. “A lot of the creeks are low or very low, running down to a trickle.”

Chances for thunderstorms are in the forecast from Wednesday night through late Saturday, with the best opportunity coming in association with an approaching storm system late Friday.

“It’s not enough to do too much, but it’ll help,” Welch said. “You may see grass green up for a couple of days to a week, but if drought persists, it’ll go back and brown out a little more.”

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