Experts compare this year's drought to previous years, explain how much rain we need

WABC logo
Thursday, August 25, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

The latest drought monitor was released on Thursday as a severe drought continues to expand across New Jersey and parts of New York. Brittany Bell has the story

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The latest drought monitor was released on Thursday as a severe drought continues to expand across New Jersey and parts of New York.

Doctor David Robinson is New Jersey Climatologist and compares this year's dry conditions to droughts in previous years.

"2010 was a particularly hot, dry summer," Robinson said. "The last time New Jersey declared a drought emergency was back in 2002. So we've gone 20 years without a real severe drought in Jersey."

New Jersey had its 13th driest July on record with Newark recording its driest July only picking up .55 inches of rain.

WATCH | What is an extreme heat belt? Jeff Smith explains

So far this month, Newark received 1.48 inches of rain, which puts them 1.8 inches below average for August.

Conditions aren't much better in Central Park. This month only 1.35 inches fell in the park putting it about 2.25 inches below normal.

So how much rain do we need to get out of this? Climatologist Jessica Spaccio from the Northeast Regional Climate Center said that depends on the specific area and their typical rainfall averages.

"It's not always a specific number," Spaccio said. "Things we can look at, we have year-to-date precipitation. You know kind of where we should be. I did look at some of those numbers, and Central Park right now is about four inches below normal. Other places like Newark or Bridgeport, Connecticut are more like seven inches below normal."

And the type of rain we get is crucial.

"We don't need a deluge, in fact, we don't want that because so much of that runs off and heads downstream and may never make it to the reservoir, maybe downstream of reservoirs," Robinson said. "And it doesn't soak into the ground the replace the groundwater which will subsequently feed our streams and rivers."

Some counties and cities have already started water restrictions.

In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont announced a Stage 3 drought level for New London and Windham counties due to more serious conditions emerging in those areas.

And in New York, Rockland County officials declared a Stage 2 water emergency beginning Thursday, implementing mandatory restrictions on water use.

But you can be proactive and take small steps even if you're not under a restriction.

"Simple things like when you're brushing your teeth to turn off your faucet, and when you're doing dishes wait until everything is soaked up and then turn on the water to rinse them," Spaccio said.

WATCH | NatGeo explains the 7 ways climate change is affecting your life