Recent Maine Drought Worst In 50 Years
The four year long drought of 1999-2002 was the most severe to hit Maine in more than 50 years, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Maine District.
Although the dry conditions varied in severity throughout Maine, the report, prepared by the USGS in cooperation with the Maine Governor’s Drought Task Force, calls the drought “widespread” during the four year period and “severe” in 2001-2002.
“Central Maine was the hardest hit part of the state,” said Bob Lent, USGS Maine District Chief. “Record low monthly precipitation totals, stream flows, and groundwater levels recurred for several months at some sites in Central Maine throughout the four year duration,” he said.
“On a statewide scale, this drought is the most severe since 1947-50. By 2002, we were observing record lows for ground and surface water in much of the state, making it the driest year on record,” said Lent.
The dry conditions disrupted daily life for many Mainers, and had an economic impact that reached beyond state borders. State officials noted that the drought affected 35 public water supplies severely. Eight of those provide service to large communities.
About 17,000 private wells went dry in the nine months prior to April 2002. The state’s agricultural industry lost more than 32 million dollars in crops in 2001-2002 and some growers of wild blueberries lost 80 to 100 percent of their crop.
Significantly dry conditions also occurred from 1963-69, particularly in northern and southern Maine. But the report cites that drought as “more remarkable for its duration.” It is the only one on record lasting seven years.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.