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U.S. Drought Monitor: Nassau now abnormally dry, while Suffolk still in moderate drought

After being in moderate drought since May, Nassau County is now considered just abnormally dry, according to Thursday's update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Suffolk, however, remains in moderate drought, which is the monitor's least intense drought category.

Since Dec. 1 -- the start of meteorological winter -- Long Island MacArthur Airport in Suffolk County has registered a precipitation deficit of just over 6 inches, according to a posting on the National Weather Service's Facebook page. The airport is the Island's official location for weather measurements, with no official precipitation statistics kept for spots in Nassau.

A number of factors are considered for the weekly drought monitor update, including radar images of storm systems, soil moisture and stream flow, which is affected by precipitation runoff, said Anthony Artusa, the Climate Prediction Center meteorologist who wrote this week's drought conditions summary.

He pointed to one example - the "pretty big difference" between rainfall amounts on Aug. 21 - with Kennedy Airport in Queens seeing 2.4 inches and MacArthur Airport, just 0.37.

So, what's it going to take to get the area out of drought conditions?

"At the very least, a couple of larger scale" widespread rainfall systems, as opposed to the summer's more hit-or-miss pattern of scattered showers and thunderstorms, said Faye Barthold, weather service meteorologist based in Upton.

Short term, no such drenchers are forecast for the coming days, with Rich Hoffman, News 12 Long Island meteorologist, pointing to mostly sunny skies with a few clouds through the weekend.

While Tropical Storm Erika could drop 3 to 6 - even up to 10 - inches of rain through Saturday in parts of the Caribbean on its route to Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center, the storm's further track remains uncertain.

Looking longer range to September through November, "there's a very weak tilt in the odds," said Artusa, for Long Island to see below normal precipitation for that period, as opposed to above or right at normal.


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