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Drought no longer ‘extreme’ in Erie County

The extreme drought has eased over the last week in Erie County, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The federal National Drought Mitigation Center released its latest map Thursday showing that only Genesee County remains under “extreme” drought conditions.

Severe drought still exists across the whole of the rest of the eight-county Western New York region, except for Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.

Across most of those two western Southern Tier counties, conditions range from moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions to no drought down near Jamestown and along the Chautauqua County border with Pennsylvania.

“The rain event that occurred during the first part of the ... week dropped 1.5 inches at the Buffalo airport and over an inch at several nearby co-op stations,” the drought monitor’s Northeast summary stated.

It added: “Although the long-term factors (such as groundwater) are low but stable, near-term factors such as creek flows have recovered considerably and it was reported that lawns and foliage have greened up in the Buffalo metro area.”

A swath of extreme drought still exists across upstate from Genesee County east through the Finger Lakes to Seneca County and also around Watkins Glen and Ithaca.

Just last week, northern Erie County was included among the hardest-hit areas.

But above-average rainfall in Buffalo during August helped pull northern Erie County out of the extreme drought status.

August finished as the first above-average month for precipitation in Buffalo since February.

In all, 4.17 inches fell at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, a little less than an inch above normal.The deficit for the year remains at 6.64 inches as of Thursday, according to National Weather Service data.

An analysis of the drought monitor’s archive since 2000 shows the 2016 drought marks the first time Erie County has been categorized as “extreme.”

Only twice before, in 2001 and 2007, has Erie County been under “severe drought” conditions: between Sept. 4 to 25, 2007 and Aug. 14 to Sept. 25, 2001.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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