CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – For the first time since late August, Cape May County is drought free. The U. S. Drought Monitor for Dec. 6 shows the persistent moderate drought designation in the southern half of the county has been lifted. The county remains abnormally dry – a designation used to indicate pre-drought conditions.
In September, much of the county was in severe drought for the first time in twenty years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) says that while precipitation in the county is below average for the year, November had rain slightly above the county’s normal level. Despite the improving drought conditions, the U.S. Geological Survey shows pockets in the county with below normal streamflow levels. Depth to water level below land service dropped by over two feet from May through September and is now recovering according to provisional data.
The last three months represent a significant improvement for the county. On Sept. 6 the drought monitor showed 98% of the county in severe drought. By Dec. 6 the county is drought free. Many scientists argue that swings between drought periods and more frequent and intense precipitation events is a sign of climate change impacts.
If the county’s designation as abnormally dry persists, seasonal crop growth can be impacted and fire danger is elevated. With no improvement the spring fire season could begin early. Wildfire risk is one of the significant threats listed in a recent climate change vulnerability assessment developed by Upper Township.
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