New England Drought, 2020

Science Center Objects

New England experienced a combination of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation beginning in mid-May that led to a flash drought and rapid drying of soil. Near record warmth and below normal precipitation has persisted through October.

Dry river bed during 2020 drought - Mill River at Cook Hill Rd. in Cheshire, CT

Station 01196588 Mill River at Cook Hill Rd. in Cheshire, Connecticut.

Photo shows a stretch of channel where our river stage gage is (outside staff gage). The river bed is dry, zero discharge.

(Credit: Narcyz Dubicki, U.S. Geological Survey, New England Water Science Center. Public domain.)

Most of New England was under extreme to moderate drought conditions in September.

By the end of September, almost all of the about 200 monitoring stations with 30 or more years of record were reporting below normal conditions, with about one-quarter of those at a record low.

Some areas, such as Caribou, Maine, experienced their warmest meteorological summer (June-August) on record.

Working within the constraints of strict travel restrictions, technicians and scientists collected more than 350 additional field measurements to define stagedischarge relationships and ensure accurate data for decision makers; held or attended 26 meetings for drought committees to discuss hydrologic conditions with Federal, State, and local partners; and brought drough trelated expertise to the public through 15 media encounters.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2020, Meeting the challenge—U.S. Geological Survey North Atlantic and Appalachian Region fiscal year 2020 in review: U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 207, 20 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/gip207