Drought conditions developing across Maryland

Drought conditions are developing across Maryland.

Carroll, Howard, Frederick and Montgomery counties are officially in a drought, and most of the rest of the state is unusually dry, according to the United States Drought Monitor.

Those four counties are classified as being in "moderate" drought, the second step on a five-level continuum of drought conditions. "Abnormally dry" conditions, a precursor to drought, are present across most of the rest of the state on the west side of the Chesapeake Bay.

"Extreme" and "exceptional" drought conditions meanwhile persist across the Southeast and are spreading up the Interstate 95 corridor, reaching southern New England.

Over the past three months, rainfall is more than 3 1/2 inches below normal at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, according to the National Weather Service. In Emmitsburg, precipitation is more than 5 inches below normal over that period.

Most areas of the four counties experiencing moderate drought received less than a third of an inch of rain so far this month, compared to normal rainfall of an inch and a half to 2 inches, according to the weather service.

Climate forecasts suggest increasing chances of rain in the second half of the month, meteorologists said. But, they added, "this is not necessarily an indication that the rainfall would be enough to significantly lessen the existing rainfall deficits."

The region has been running a significant rainfall surplus most of the year, but the dry spell over the past few months has erased it. Through Wednesday, 36.46 inches of precipitation had been reported in 2016 at BWI, the region's point of record, compared with a norm of 37.03 inches for the year to date.

Conditions have been unusually wet on the Eastern Shore, on the other hand.

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