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Drought conditions improve with a lot of rain on the Cape and Islands this October

A map from the US Drought Monitor indicates parts of the Cape no longer considered a drought
US Drought Monitor
A map from the US Drought Monitor indicates parts of the Cape no longer considered a drought

Rain totals across the region have already surpassed the average rain amounts for October — in some cases tripling the monthly average.

The Chatham Airport weather station recorded more than 9 inches of rain this month, compared to the average of about 3 inches. The National Weather Service reports that a station on Nantucket received more than 8 inches so far this month, about double the average amount for October.

Cape Cod Commission Water Resource Analyst Timothy Pasakarnis told Barnstable County officials this week that the risk of wildfire has decreased, and rivers and ponds are returning to normal levels.

"So there’s a great improvement," Pasakarnis said. "There was above average rainfall in October, which is fantastic.”

County Commissioners have been getting updates on the drought since a historic low amount of rain was recorded this summer in Hyannis.

Meantime, federal officials have lifted the draught status for the South Coast and for the Upper Cape. Parts were in an extreme drought at the height of the summer.

But it isn't all good news yet. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor reports the Mid, Lower and Outer Cape are still considered to be in a moderate drought, while the islands are abnormally dry.

And Pasakarnis says that the Cape is still behind in yearly rainfall amounts, by about 2 inches. A weather station in Hyannis has so far recorded 34 inches of precipitation, compared to the yearly average of about 36 inches.

And groundwater levels are still recovering from the extremely dry summer. Pasakarnis says that groundwater lags behind other draught indicators, as it takes time for aquifers to replenish.

The state's drought management task force is expected to meet in early November, when they'll make recommendations about how to classify the drought across the state, and could decide to lift the classification entirely from some areas. Towns across the state rely on the task force when setting water restrictions. Many towns still have restrictions in place, like temporarily banning the use of sprinklers.

Sam Houghton left CAI in February, 2023, to become News Editor at the Martha's Vineyard Times.
He worked at CAI since the summer of 2017. Before that, he worked at the Falmouth Enterprise, where he covered local politics.