Franklin, Oxford counties now face severe drought

·2 min read

Jul. 2—After weeks of hot, dry weather, a growing part of Maine is considered in a severe drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday the severe drought area in Maine, which had focused on Somerset County, now includes nearly all of Franklin County and much of Oxford County.

"We're already starting to see conditions month to month that are well below normal," Nick Stasulis, data section chief of the U.S. Geological Survey and co-chairman of the Maine Drought Task Force, said in a prepared statement. "We didn't get the significant spring recharge we were hoping to see."

"The lack of rainfall, combined with the excess heat, has dried soils and lowered stream flows" in the region, the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

The entire state is abnormally dry and most of it is facing a moderate drought, including Androscoggin County and the entire coastal region from Kittery to Mount Desert Island.

The lack of precipitation hasn't led to many public measures, but South Berwick in southern Maine this week imposed restrictions on water use because of "the continuing effects of the drought."

Other public water systems in Maine are "currently taking steps to prepare for a drought and modify operations to accommodate low water," state officials said Thursday.

Most of the rivers and streams in the worst-hit area have been posting record lows for this time of year for weeks.

Nine dry wells have been reported in Maine as of Thursday afternoon as officials survey how private wells are doing across the state. Three of them are in Oxford County.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center is predicting somewhat higher temperatures than normal through mid-July in Maine with normal rainfall totals.

"The heat will break down as we enter the holiday weekend. We can expect a good cool down with gradually decreasing humidity," Sarah Jamison of the National Weather Service in Gray said. "But the outlook for next week will heat up again."

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