More than half of Massachusetts is now experiencing a severe drought, according to the latest map issued by the federal government’s official drought-tracking service.
The US Drought Monitor map showed that, with the drought expanding onto Cape Cod in the past week, 57.2 percent of the state is now experiencing severe drought, including much of Central Massachusetts and all of mainland Eastern Massachusetts.
The rest of the state is experiencing moderate drought, except for a sliver on the western border that is just abnormally dry.
“Short-term moderate and severe drought continued to expand, especially in the New York City area, New Jersey, and New England, where rainfall was sparse and temperatures were a few degrees above normal. Water use restrictions and farming impacts were becoming common across these regions as dry conditions continued another week,” the Drought Monitor experts said Thursday in a weekly summary.
Under severe drought conditions, crops are impacted in both yield and fruit size, hay prices spike, outdoor burn warnings are issued, air quality is poor, trees are brittle and susceptible to insects, water quality is poor, and outdoor water restrictions are implemented, according to the experts.
In a moderate drought, irrigation use increases; hay and grain yields are lower than normal; honey production declines; wildfires and groundfires increase; trees, landscaping, and fish are stressed; voluntary water conservation is requested; and reservoir and lake levels are below normal capacity, the experts say.
The Drought Monitor map is a joint effort of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The federal drought assessments are not official declarations but are offered as guidance, according to state officials.
State officials say they use more detailed information to issue drought declarations that come with specific actions people should take.
After recommendations by the state’s Drought Management Task Force, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card on July 21 declared a Level 3-Critical Drought in the Northeast and Central Regions of the state. The Southeast, and Connecticut River Valley Regions remained at a Level 2-Significant Drought, and the Cape Cod Region will join the Islands and Western Regions at Level 1-Mild Drought.
The officials urged people to conserve water in the drought areas, recommending different steps depending on the drought level.
The state’s Drought Management Task Force is scheduled to meet again Monday.
There is little relief in terms of rain in the forecast as the state enters a stretch of extremely hot days.
Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from prior Globe stories was included in this report.
Martin Finucane can be reached at email@example.com.