Northeast Drought Early Warning Update
Drought Early Warning Update for the

October 9, 2020

Drought severity continues to increase across most of the Northeast.
This Drought Early Warning Update is issued in partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to communicate concern for drought expansion and intensification within the Northeast U.S. based on recent conditions and the forecasts and outlooks. NIDIS and its partners will issue future Drought Early Warning Updates as conditions evolve.

This covers the following states in the Northeast U.S.: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York.

Key Points

  1. Extreme Drought (D3) was introduced to western Maine. 
  2. Extreme Drought (D3) expanded in New Hampshire and southern New England.
  3. Severe Drought (D2) to Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions covered the rest of New England and the western half of New York to the Adirondacks.
  4. Seasonal agriculture products like Christmas trees and cranberries are threatened. Cranberries take a double hit from the lack of water for frost protection and harvest efforts.
  5. With unusually dry soils, the rain that does fall does not soak into the ground. Fire threats ease briefly but return quickly. Similarly, stream flows have minor recoveries for a short period of time before returning to concerning levels.
State Reported Impacts

New Hampshire

  • Press Release (October 2, 2020): ... 166 community water systems serving 331,000 people and seven municipalities with a total population of 60,700 have water use restrictions in place. See the Restriction List and Map for names of systems and municipalities implementing restrictions and a map of drought conditions by municipality.
  • A fire ban (“PROHIBITION ON THE KINDLING OF ANY OPEN FIRE & SMOKING IN OR NEAR WOODLANDS”) signed by the Governor remains in effect.  


  • Whereas previously the drought was having the biggest effect on farmers in southern Vermont, reports have been received from farmers regarding issues in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (Essex, Orleans and Caledonia Counties). Water sources, including wells, have run dry and owners are having to transport water from offsite for their livestock. Many of the farms are not on municipal water supplies so are dependent on wells and springs – this might be why there are more water shortage issues in the northeast despite the fact that the drought conditions might be more significant in southern Vermont.
  • The Vermont Agency of Agriculture received word that at least a couple of farmers are inquiring about funding support to dig new wells as the originals have dried up. This is not specific to a single part of the state.
Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions

  • Extreme drought (D3) conditions exist in 10% of the Northeast.
  • Severe drought (D2) conditions exist in 35% of the Northeast.
  • Moderate drought (D1) conditions exist in 23% of the region.
  • Abnormally dry (D0) conditions exist in 19% of the region.
October 6, 2020, U.S. Drought Monitor Map:
September Temperature and Precipitation Rankings
  • For the month of September, all of the Northeast states had below average precipitation. Vermont and Rhode Island were much below average and Maine had it driest September on record (dating back to 1895).
  • All of the Northeast had near average to above average temperatures in September.

  • The 8-14 day outlook favors above-normal temperatures for the Northeast, except for central New York, where normal temperatures are forecast, and a bit of western New York, where below-normal temperatures are favored. Above-normal precipitation is favored for the region.
  • The 3-4 week outlooks favor above-normal temperatures for the Northeast. Equal chances for above or below-normal precipitation are favored for the eastern part of the region, while below-normal precipitation is favored for the western part.

Temperature Outlook 8-14 Day
Precipitation Outlook 8-14 Day
Temperature Outlook Week 3-4
Precipitation Outlook Week 3-4
Current CPC Outlooks:
Additional Resources

Contacts for More Information

Regional Drought Information Coordinator (Northeast DEWS)
NOAA/CIRES/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)

Ellen L. Mecray
Regional Climate Services Director, Eastern Region
NOAA/NESDIS/National Centers for Environmental Information
Prepared By
Sylvia Reeves
NOAA/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)

Samantha Borisoff, Jessica Spaccio, Keith Eggleston, Art DeGaetano
Northeast Regional Climate Center

Ellen Mecray
Regional Climate Services Director, Eastern Region, NOAA

David Hollinger and Maria Janowiak
USDA Climate Hubs

Gardner Bent
USGS/New England Water Science Center

In partnership with National Weather Service Offices of the Northeast and State Climate Offices of the Northeast.