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Long Island experiencing moderate drought

The level of dryness on Long Island has risen from "abnormally dry" to "moderate drought," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which pointed to below-normal rainfall as a factor.

That's the least intense of the four drought levels.

No water-use restrictions are in place and reservoirs are at above normal levels, said Tim Morrin, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, based in Upton.

Still, with a rain deficit in Islip of 4.37 inches since Sept. 1, "for us the biggest concern is fire," Morrin said. Potential vegetative "fuel" is going into dormancy and is dryer than normal, he said, increasing the risk of spreading, should a fire ignite.

The weather service issued a statement Thursday telling of "an enhanced fire spread risk," with lower humidity levels and wind gusts of about 25 mph during the day.

Precipitation so far this month at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma was 2.62 inches below normal, making it the second driest October since 2000, with 0.15 inches of rain recorded for the same time frame, the National Weather Service said.

Don't expect any long-term effects on the area's aquifers.

"As it can take rainwater decades to percolate down to even the nearest aquifer, temporary moderate drought conditions are not going to impact at all our ability to serve our customers an ample supply of safe and constantly tested drinking water," said Jeffrey W. Szabo, chief executive of the Suffolk County Water Authority.

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