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Drought Status

Find out the current drought status in Massachusetts, learn about past droughts and find past drought declaration maps.

Table of Contents

Current Drought Status

Drought status declared July 15, 2024. (effective until updated)

Following two months of below-average rainfall, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rebecca Tepper declared a Level 1-Mild Drought in the Western Region of Massachusetts. All other regions of the state – Connecticut River Valley, Central, Northeast, Southeast, Cape Cod, and Islands – remain in Level 0-Normal conditions. A Level 1-Mild Drought, as outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, warrants detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, and technical outreach and assistance to the affected municipalities.

The week of May 29 – June 5 saw multiple indices at below-normal for the first time in the Western Region: the 60-day precipitation and 30-day streamflow were at severity level 2 and KBDI-Fire Danger at Level 1. June was a warm and drier month in western Massachusetts. Rainfall totals averaged 2 to 4 inches which is 50-75% below average for the month but locations near the east slopes of the Berkshires received 4 to 5 inches of rain in June which was closer to normal. Three-month departures in precipitation are beginning to show a decline in western Massachusetts (as low as 75%) but six-month departures are within the normal range.

Streamflow conditions have generally moved from above normal to normal over the last 3 months across Massachusetts, with the Cape and Islands still a little above normal by the end of June and parts of the Hoosic, Housatonic, and Connecticut River basins a little below normal in May and June. By late June, groundwater levels were normal to above normal statewide at USGS-monitored continuous wells, except for wells in the upper Hoosic and Housatonic basins, which were a little below normal.

The Drought Management Task force will meet again on Tuesday, August 6 and update the drought status recommendation at that time.

Past Droughts and Declaration

Drought History

The information in this Drought Status History dates to 2001, when the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan was developed in response to a period of deficient precipitation that began in 1999. The most severe drought of modern times was the drought of the 1960s, equivalent to a drought emergency. A less severe drought occurred in the early 1980s. 

The Commonwealth experienced another impactful drought in 2016-2017 with drought levels reaching Level 4 Drought (Warning) out of five levels of drought; the drought impacted the agricultural sector, some water supplies, the natural environment and many habitats and species. To read more about the drought, how it fared and the state responses and actions click here.

Past Drought Status Maps

Additional Resources

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