Soggy weekend helps avert drought designation for Berkshires, Southern Vermont
A beneficial, soaking rainfall over the weekend may have dampened some outdoor activities, but it's expected to keep Berkshire County and southern Vermont from a formal drought designation.
Currently, the area is ranked as abnormally dry, the first stage of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's drought index, which rises in severity into moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional categories.
"The rainfall did give us a good number of drops in the bucket," said Britt Westergard, a senior hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y. "It was helpful and much needed, especially for vegetation and agriculture."
She cautioned that much of the rain soaked into the dry ground and "stream flow remains very low" in Berkshire County and southern Vermont. River and lake water levels also remain well below normal.
However, she pointed out that the USDA's weekly National Drought Monitor is unlikely to downgrade the area into an official "moderate drought" category, most likely keeping the "abnormally dry" pre-drought ranking in place.
Precipitation for the year had been running about 25 percent below normal before the rains came. But with a measurement of nearly 2 inches in the National Weather Service rain gauge at Pittsfield Municipal Airport from Saturday to mid-morning Monday, the total for July checked in at near-normal 4.25 inches.
For the first half of the year, total rainfall in Pittsfield is now 20 percent below average, still a significant dry spell.
With additional rainfall ending on Tuesday, some areas could see anywhere from a quarter to three quarters of an inch, only enough to put a slight dent into the near-drought that has caused irrigation problems for area farmers and water restrictions in Hinsdale and Williamstown.
Statewide, in addition to Berkshire County, only southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands have been spared an official drought alert. Most of the central and northeastern counties, including Essex, Middlesex, Worcester and the Boston metro area, are in the severe drought category, according to the USDA's weekly monitor.
At least 120 of the state's 351 communities have imposed mandatory water-usage restrictions.
Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.
Rainfall totals . . .
Pittsfield Municipal Airport: 1.92 inches
North Adams Harriman & West Airport: 1.57 inches
Bennington Airport: 1.06 inches
Clarksburg: 1.04 inches
Lanesborough: 1.90 inches
Pownal, Vt: 1.77 inches
Savoy: 2.55 inches
Stockbridge: 0.62 inches
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