Drought looms for Ohio Valley to Northeast as rainfall deficit grows

A persistently dry end to summer and start to fall has put some areas on the cusp of a drought across the Ohio Valley to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

“While most places east of the Mississippi River have yet to develop drought conditions, with the exception to eastern Maine, the area has had hardly any precipitation since early September,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.

Many cities are running a few inches below normal in terms of rainfall since Aug. 1. Some of the major cities include Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Syracuse, New York and Providence, Rhode Island. This deficit will grow even more as October starts.

This has prompted the Drought Monitor to label some areas in a drought and others abnormally dry. Both categories will likely expand through the week.

Aside from some locally heavy showers across New England Saturday, appreciable rain will be tough to find across much of the eastern U.S. through early this week. For some areas, that may be the case through the entire week.

A dome of high pressure aloft, which was in place across the eastern U.S. this past week, is expected to build back in for the start of October.

This dome acts as a wall and prevents storm systems from passing through the region. Instead, they are turned northward which results in areas of rain deflecting northward as well.

“We see minimal rain chances to start October, especially in the mid-Mississippi Valley, Tennessee Valley, and mid-Atlantic,” Pastelok said.

A cold front will try to spread some rain from the Midwest to the Northeast during the second half of the week. However, this rain will have a tough time spreading south and east and may fizzle as it attempts to do so. The best chance for rain will be across the Midwest.

While any rainfall this week will be welcomed, it will not be enough to cover the deficit for most places. It will likely take several periods of steadier rain to achieve that.

The lack of rainfall has put a strain on community and household water systems with some municipalities asking residents to monitor water usage. Households that utilize underground wells for their water will want to conserve as water levels will likely continue to lower.

Farmers and gardeners are also feeling the effects of the dry spell. Some of the apple crop is ripening earlier and quicker, which is shortening the time for the fruit to be harvested.

Fall foliage is also taking a hit amid the dry stretch. Trees that are typically turning vibrant with color during this time are dull and falling earlier.

Not only will this disappoint leaf-peepers, but it also will provide dry fuel for wildfires. Hikers and campers are urged to use caution and to heed local burn bans.

Following the weekend cooldown, warmer air will accompany the dry weather over the next few days.