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Drought concerns continue for the fall

After well below rainfall over meteorological summer, drought still remains an issue heading into fall despite recent rainfall.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — After well below average rainfall during the recent meteorological summer, concerns over drought and Pennsylvania's Drought Watch continue heading into the fall season despite recent rainfall.

As a result, it's important to prepare in the event local water resources start suffering.  

Jennifer Fetter, a local Water Resource Leader with the Penn State Extension, said, “The rain by itself isn’t the only thing we use to determine whether or not we are in a drought."

She says that officials look to three major elements when diagnosing a drought watch including:

  1.  Amount of total rainfall recorded
  2. Local stream, creek and river levels 
  3. Groundwater supply or aquifers 

Low local waterway and aquifers levels are the reason about half of Pennsylvania remains on a Drought Watch, and those need more steady rain to replenish.

Credit: DEP

“All of these things have to recover it can’t just be a rainstorm on the surface. It needs to soak in, it needs to fill our streams, it ends to fill our groundwater aquifers to get out of this drought situation," Fetter said. 

Looking back, Pennsylvania has had recent rain, and some of it was heavy, but sometimes that can be part of the problem. Lately, rain has been very localized, and if it comes too fast, there isn't enough time for the soil to absorb it.

“What we want is a steady soaking rain that has time to soak into the ground and get absorbed by plant roots and also trickle down into the groundwater supply and the aquifers," Fetter said.

With a lack of steady rain in the near-term forecast, it’s important to conserve water use, even if we are not within the designated watch.  

Turning the water off when brushing our teeth, shortening showers, running our dish or clothes washer only when full, and keeping an eye on leaks within our homes are things we can do to conserve water.   

Drought resources to check out:

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