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Western New Yorkers battle once-in-a-generation drought

By August 9, 2016 No Comments

A ONCE-IN-A-GENERATION DROUGHT GRIPPING THE BUFFALO AREA HAS RUN WELLS DRY, TURNED TREES DORMANT, PROVOKED DAIRY FARMERS TO WEIGH THE POSSIBILITY OF SELLING OFF COWS, AND FORCED BOATERS TO GROUND THEIR VESSELS.

Even the area’s bugs are parched: It’s so arid and hot, they’ve been moving indoors to escape the elements.

For most of Western New York, it has been the driest spring and summer on record in 75 years, and evidence of the drought’s severity was on display across the region:

  • In Delaware Park, a cloud of dust engulfed gardener Marcus Hall as he maneuvered a lawn mower around a row of trees. But Hall wasn’t using the mower to cut grass. It’s tan as straw and hasn’t grown in weeks. Instead, he was grinding the crusty leaves that had fallen prematurely into mulch.

“I feel sorry for the trees, even the insects,” he said. “This is awful.”

  • In Alden, where the water level in the community’s four wells has dropped, Mayor Michael Manicki issued a call for residents to avoid any unnecessary use of water. The village also started buying water from the Erie County Water Authority.
  • Onoville Marina on the Allegheny Reservoir in Cattaraugus County will close its docks on Monday, weeks before usual, due to low water.
  • Adventure Calls Outfitters hasn’t been able to run a raft trip in Letchworth State Park since June 20, and Zoar Valley Rafting closed down its three sites for rafting trips. Zoar Valley normally sees 1,500 rafters per year, but will be lucky to get 300 rafters this year, said company representative Jim Redline.

“This has been the driest five-month period since records were kept out at the Buffalo airport, starting in 1943,” National Weather Service meteorologist David Thomas said Monday. “Right now, it’s probably a once-in-a-generation drought.”

How dry is it in Buffalo now? A look at 10 record years

From March through July, this is the fifth-driest spring and summer since recordkeeping began in 1871.

RANK
YEAR
PRECIPITATION
1st19347.75
2nd18988.34
3rd19158.92
4th19419
5th20169.07
6th18959.11
7th19359.21
8th20129.35
9th19259.52
10th19339.56