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Mass. and Conn. free of extreme drought

Dry conditions continue to recede in New England, researchers said Thursday, announcing that Massachusetts and Connecticut are both free of extreme drought.

The US Drought Monitor, a collaboration of federal and academic researchers, said much of the region remains unusually dry, with swaths still under the slightly less bleak designation of severe drought. But conditions have been on the ebb and may continue to diminish.

More than a third of the state is in severe drought, mostly in Central and Western Massachusetts. Most of the rest of the state is in moderate drought.

“Long-term conditions are still very dry, but the region has seen a response from the impact of melting snow and rain,” researchers said, adding that New England has a good chance for above average precipitation in coming days.


Despite the incremental improvements, many in Massachusetts are still hoping for wetter weather. The Quabbin Reservoir remains at 81 percent of its capacity, and it has hovered around that level for months.

Frederick A. Laskey, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, said in an interview that the size of the reservoir, one of the largest in the nation, makes it less responsive to weather changes.

“The Quabbin is so large that it goes down very slowly and it comes back very slowly,” he said, “We’re holding our own. We’re waiting for some late winter heavy storms or some spring heavy rains.”

Some communities’ smaller reservoirs have gained more from recent precipitation, Laskey said, but he noted that those also lost a greater percentage of their water during the stubborn dry spell.

Also frustrating to the authority has been a bit of bad luck in the specific weather patterns around the massive reservoir.

“It’s been raining and snowing all around Quabbin, and it’s almost like there’s a force field,” Laskey said.


Andy Rosen can be reached at