Drought Status

Find out the current drought status in Massachusetts, as well as find past drought declaration maps.

Table of Contents

Current Drought Status

Map: Massachusetts drought status. Conditions since September 1, effective until updated

October 9, 2020 – Due to five months of below normal rainfall, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides today declared a Level 3 – Critical Drought in the Southeast Region of the Commonwealth. The other six regions across the state — the Western, Connecticut River Valley, Central, Northeast, Cape Cod, and Islands regions— remain at a Level 2 – Significant Drought.

In the Millers and Charles River basins, drought indices show a condition worse than that in the rest of their respective drought regions. Responding to these conditions, Secretary Theoharides also declared a Level 3 – Critical Drought in the Charles River and Millers River Basins. A River Basin is the geographical area that contributes and drains into a river system, including its tributaries. For a list of communities in each region, click here.

At a Level 3 – Critical Drought, as outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Planthere is an increased reliance on mandatory conservation measures to augment voluntary measures.

At a Level 2 – Significant Drought, conditions are becoming significantly dry and warrant detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, emphasis on water conservation, more stringent watering restrictions, and technical outreach and assistance for the affected municipalities.

During Fire Prevention Week, and with continued drought-like conditions throughout the Commonwealth, state officials also urge residents to remain diligent in their efforts to prevent a wildland fire and to take common sense safety measures when using outdoor fire pits, grills, and other open flames.

In order to prevent wildfires, residents are asked to:

  • Exercise caution when using charcoal grills, matches, and other open flames during outdoor activities.
  • Before setting up a campfire or any other outdoor burning, be sure it is permitted and at least 25 feet away from any structure and anything that can burn.
  • Clear away dry leaves and sticks, overhanging low branches and shrubs.
  • Avoid burning on windy, dry days.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids.
  • Always have a hose, bucket of water, or shovel and dirt or sand nearby to put out the fire, and make sure to put it completely out before leaving the site.
  • If there is a fire, call 911 immediately.

The drought declaration will remain in effect until water levels return to normal in the affected areas.

Additional Resources

Past Drought Declarations Maps and History

Past Drought Status Maps

Drought History

The information in this drought history table 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. 

Additional Resources

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