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Wet spring brings end to N.H.'s drought

By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent

May 04. 2017 8:53PM
This map from the U.S. Drought Monitor website shows the improvement in drought conditions since April 25. (SOURCE: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/)

Farming this spring is nothing like last year.

“As far as soil conditions go, it’s actually like a normal spring,” said Phil Ferdinando, owner of J&F Farms in Derry.

A wet spring combined with recent snowmelt have brought an end to New Hampshire’s drought conditions that began last spring and persisted through some of the winter months.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday showed that while it’s still abnormally dry in parts of southern New Hampshire, none of the state is in a drought.

“With the latest rain things are coming up,” said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist and hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

Precipitation recorded in Concord since Jan. 1 is 1.93 inches above normal.

April was a wet month, Hawley said, adding that the rainy weather is expected to continue over the next couple of weeks.

Another 1 to 2 inches of rain is likely Friday and Saturday.

“Right now we’re certainly in a wet period. I can’t rule out that sometime in June or July we could go back to a dry period,” he said.

Groundwater is expected to continue to recharge until all of the foliage has returned. The recharge will be over once the leaves are out within the next couple of weeks, Hawley said.

“If we can get to normal levels we should be OK going into the summer,” he said.

The recent drought was the worst since one in the 1960s that lasted for several years.

It began last spring after the state experienced below normal snowfall and a dry April. Conditions worsened through the summer, causing many dug wells in southern New Hampshire to dry up.

“We didn’t get the typical recharge in the spring that we would normally get. It really hurt the farmers the worst because that’s when they were planting and they really needed the rain to germinate crops,” Hawley said.

Unlike last year, Ferdinando said there are parts of his fields that are now wet.

He said he’d prefer drier weather for planting and preparing the land, but he’s glad to see the drought conditions are over.

“This year has been good so far,” he said as he prepared to spend the rest of Thursday afternoon planting corn.

Many other vegetables have already been planted, including peas, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, squash and cucumbers.

Meanwhile, several towns and cities affected by the drought have left outdoor water restrictions in place, but Hawley said they could consider lifting them depending on the status of their local water supplies.

Still, he said, people should be careful not to waste water.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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