ITHACA, N.Y. — We know it’s probably the last thing you want to hear. But it is what it is. Apart from a couple glimmers of hope, shimmering like raindrops, heat and dry conditions are expected to persist for at least the next few weeks.
So far this month (technically, this is as of Wednesday the 28th, since this article is being written before the 24-hour totals are posted each morning), the rain gauge at Cornell’s Game Farm Road weather station has recorded 1.70 inches, just under half of the usual amount of 3.47 inches expected by this time in July. Although it’s an improvement from the dismal 27 percent of normal we saw in June, it’s still significantly below average, exacerbating the current drought.
The National Weather Service forecast office in Binghamton calls for scattered showers and thunderstorms to develop Saturday night into Sunday as a wave of low pressure pushes from the Ohio Valley eastward through the region; but by Monday, an impending ridge of high pressure will start pushing in from the east, limiting any further rain from developing for and returning temperatures to above-normal. The NOAA Weather Predication Center’s Quantified Precipitation Forecast (QPF) wants to be really generous with the late weekend rainfall, but differences in the weather models and with each new operational run makes it a tough call to say just how much the region will actually see (in contrast, if you’re heading to New York City this weekend, you’re going to want an umbrella and boots).
Meanwhile, in the longer term, the outlook is sunny, and in this case that might be a bad thing. The latest outputs from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) are shown below. Clockwise, it’s the 6-10 day outlook, the 8-14 day outlook, the 1-month outlook and the 3-month outlook. Green shading indicates an above-average chance of wetter-than-normal conditions, and brown shading indicates an above-average chance of drier-than-normal conditions; the darker the color, the better the chances. What this tells us is, apart from a slim chance of some welcome precipitation late next week into next weekend, the outlook is a dry one for the next several weeks. On average, Ithaca sees 3.63″ or rain during the month of August.
Perhaps just as important is that temperatures are expected to run generally above normal – with the exception of a possible brief cool down during the 8-14 day period, all the other outlooks are calling for warmer than normal conditions. Evaporation rates increase, and since people, animals and plants dry out faster, water consumption tends to go up.
So, to sum things up, the drought’s likely to be around for a while yet. Might be a good time to invest in some rain barrels.