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NH sees drought conditions as heat wave approaches

Union Leader Correspondent

June 29. 2018 10:24AM
Colorful umbrellas hanging in downtown Littleton came in handy during Thursday's heavy rain showers, but they'll also offer some shade as heat wave is expected to hit New Hampshire this weekend. (Jason Schreiber)

Much of New Hampshire got a good soaking Thursday, but a long stretch of hot and mostly dry weather is expected to begin Friday that could exacerbate the moderate drought conditions already being seen in central and southern areas.

The state has been running anywhere from 3 to nearly 5 inches below normal rainfall over the past couple of months, and while forecasters say Thursday’s rain will ease the deficit, it’s unlikely to wash away the drought.

Residents whose wells dried up and farmers who struggled to grow their crops are hoping there’s no repeat of 2016 when the state experienced its worst drought since the 1960s.

“We don’t want to see a drought like 2016,” said Matt Scruton, who runs Ten Rod Farm in Rochester and is president of the Strafford County Farm Bureau and second vice president of the New Hampshire Farm Bureau.

The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday showed a swath of central and southern New Hampshire is now in moderate drought conditions while the rest of the state is experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

The state picked up 1 to a little more than 2 inches of rain Thursday, but no significant rainfall is expected for the next several days, according to James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

The heat is also expected to begin to build over the weekend and into next week with temperatures climbing to the low to mid-90s.

Brown said Sunday and Monday will be “brutal” and that the heat will likely last beyond the early part of next week.

“It looks like it’s going to continue for awhile,” he said.

For farmers, a continued dry spell is a concern, especially since many have fields that aren’t irrigated and they count on Mother Nature to cooperate.

Scruton said farmers are hopeful the weather will improve.

“Farmers are prepared as much as they can be for the challenges they face and each season produces new challenges.

Farmers have learned how to get through them,” he said.

Christmas tree farms are also concerned.

“The trees rely on rain for growth or they’ll dry up. We need more rain like we’re receiving now,” Scruton said.

Cheshire County Farm Bureau president Bob Moore of Westmoreland said it doesn’t appear that hay farmers in some areas are getting the yield they’d like because of the lack of rain this spring.

Moore used to run a farm, but has scaled back and now focuses on his gardens. He said he planted some pumpkins, but they’ve been slow to grow.

“Some of them haven’t even germinated because it’s so dry,” he said.

Moore hopes Thursday’s rain will help.

“I think it’ll push the grass and lawns and everything else along,” he said.

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