The drought that has dominated Massachusetts weather in recent weeks has expanded farther south into the state, officials said Thursday.
The weather has most affected the northeastern and central portions of the state, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Lenore Correia. The southeast and western portions have seen more rain, though not enough to make up for the dry season.
“This is the first time we’ve had to issue a drought advisory in the past five years at least,” Correia said. “It’s most common in the summer months because it’s hot and dry, but it’s not very common. It only happens every once in a while.”
According to the US Drought Monitor, a partnership of federal and university authorities, severe drought is now in effect for Essex, Middlesex, and Worcester Counties and parts of Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties.
Brian Fuchs, a climatologist for the US Drought Monitor said the moderate drought was extended Thursday to cover all of Norfolk County, the northern portions of Bristol County and Plymouth County, and the southeast corner of Worcester County. This pushes the area of the state that is under a drought warning to 74.08%, nearly a 13% increase from last week.
All of the state is abnormally dry, with the exception of Nantucket.
The US Drought Monitor said more than 120 towns statewide have adopted mandatory water restrictions.
Correia belives the drought will continue through the end of the month. She said high pressure has kept a mass of dry air over the region.
In Boston, the rainfall for the month of July has been 1.43 inches below average, and the rainfall for the year has been 5.6 inches below normal, according to meteorologist Stephanie Dunten.
Correia said one large storm will not fix the problem, it would require progressive rain over a period of time.
Correia said brush fires can spread easily in the dry climate.
“It’s so dry that fires will be able to start really quickly if there’s low humidity, especially with high wind,” Correia said.
At the border of Framingham and Sudbury, firefighters have struggled to put out a brush fire on the Nobscot Scout Reservation since Wednesday afternoon, according to Sudbury Fire Chief Bill Miles.
Miles said the cause of the fire is yet to be determined, but the dry climate has made it very difficult for firefighters to put it out.
“The main problem is that the ground is very dry below the surface so the fire burns down into the ground so it takes a lot more to put the fire out,” Miles said.