Drought watch continues, but conditions improving

Maryland environmental officials sustained "drought watch" status for most of the state based on data through May 31, but conditions have improved, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The drought watch still doesn't extend into the area served by Baltimore City reservoirs, but does cover Carroll and Harford counties, northern Baltimore County and all of western Maryland and the Eastern Shore. It is based on rainfall, stream flow, groundwater and reservoir levels, monitored by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The biggest improvement over data from April 30 was seen in stream flow levels. in western and eastern Maryland, streams had dwindled to "drought warning" status, but they have returned to normal levels in the west and "drought watch" levels in the east.

All across the state, groundwater levels remain low enough to warrant "drought watch" status for a second straight month.

The "drought watch" status does not carry with it any water use restrictions, and none have been put in place by any local water jurisdictions in the state. It is simply a monitoring of water levels in the environment.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, meanwhile, only parts of the state along the Chesapeake Bay remain either "abnormally dry" or under "moderate drought." Most of the state has been considered abnormally dry at some point so far this year, with moderate drought across central and eastern parts of the state and severe drought in part of the lower Eastern Shore.

The drought monitor's map shows moderate drought remains in southern Anne Arundel County and Calvert, Talbot, Dorchester, Caroline and Wicomico counties. But on the north side of the Interstate 95 corridor, conditions are considered normal.

In May, 1.99 inches of rain fell at BWI Marshall Airport, about half of normal levels. But elsewhere in the state, some rainstorms were heavier than they were at the airport. Rain was also more frequent in May than earlier in the spring -- at least a trace of rain fell two out of every three days in May at the airport.

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