With a dearth of rain the past seven weeks -- 3.69 inches below normal -- Long Island has been rated "abnormally dry" by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Just 1.98 inches have been recorded at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma from Sept. 1 -- the start of meteorological fall -- through Thursday, making this the second-driest fall since 1997, said Tim Morrin, National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton.
"The bottom line is, we're dry," Morrin said.
The average temperature for October at the airport is 7.2 degrees above normal, said Lauren Nash, also a meteorologist in Upton. That's with "normal to above normal" temperatures also expected next week, she said.
As for the year's precipitation -- even with June's rain surplus of 3.88 inches above the norm -- the airport saw 6.27 inches below normal as of Thursday.
"We've been stuck in an abnormally dry pattern," said Joey Picca, also a meteorologist in Upton, noting that each month since June has registered a deficit of an inch or more.
The lower than normal rainfall is the result of a weather pattern in which storms tracked to the west of Long Island, meteorologists said.
Looking into next week, "no significant precipitation is anticipated," the weather service said.
The U.S. Drought Monitor's map -- based on measurements of "climatic, hydrologic and soil conditions" -- shows Long Island is not alone: northern New Jersey and most of southern Connecticut are also "abnormally dry."
While dry conditions have led some leaves and pine needles to drop sooner than normal, the fire danger rating at the pine barrens has generally been low, said John Pavacic, executive director of the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission.
Despite the lack of rain, other conditions that would heighten the risk -- such as higher wind and low humidity -- have not been in play, he said.
Dry conditions have led leaves to change color earlier, tree specialists said. According to a weekly report at ILoveNY.com, fall foliage on Long Island this weekend was expected to be near peak, at up to 75 percent complete.