The level of extreme drought in Massachusetts has remained unchanged since last week, the US Drought Monitor said Thursday.
But the drought has expanded in Maine so that the warning covers the entire state, according to the Drought Monitor. The portion of the state classified under severe drought has risen from about 14 percent to about 43 percent. About 30 percent of the state is abnormally dry, 19 percent is classified as moderate drought, and 8 percent is classified as extreme drought.
Conditions improved slightly last week when Massachusetts received much-needed rain over Columbus Day weekend. Since then, the percentage of the state in “extreme drought,” the second most severe designation, has remained slightly under 40 percent.
Despite the rain, the state’s drought conditions are still somewhat dire, said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
“Sometimes the raw numbers can be misleading,” Simpson said. “There was improvement over the Cape and Islands, but there’s more that goes into the drought definition than just deficit of rainfall. It’s more complex than that.”
Simpson said that the one day of heavy rainfall would not be sufficient to help the situation in the long run.
“It did help, but just not as much as one would think,” Simpson said. “On any given months, about four inches of rain is normal, but it can’t all fall on the first day of the month or that will cause problems, too.”
The Drought Monitor said Thursday the only change in drought conditions in the Bay State is for the southwestern corner of the state, where conditions have worsened to severe drought from moderate drought. Severe is the third drought designation, after extreme drought and exceptional drought.
Last week, the level of severe drought statewide was around 46 percent. It has worsened to 50 percent, according to the Drought Monitor.
Simpson said the area needs prolonged rainfall in order to truly alleviate the drought.
“We need more steady rain,” Simpson said. “When it’s a prolonged, steady rain, that’s what best because it percolates into the soil and into the necessary aquifers and water sources.”
This year is the first time the US Drought Monitor, which has been mapping drought conditions since 1999, has declared an extreme drought in Massachusetts. For five weeks, more than half of the Bay State was classified in that category. It fell below 4o percent last week.
About 11 percent of the state remains in a moderate drought and 2 percent remains in abnormally dry conditions, according to the Drought Monitor.