Going brown

Paul Cuno-Booth / Sentinel Staff

A patch of dry grass on Court Street in Keene on Thursday, when a “moderate drought” was officially declared for most of New Hampshire.

Most of New Hampshire has officially entered a “moderate drought,” the N.H. Department of Environmental Services announced in a news release Thursday.

The condition applies to all parts of the state except the northern half of Grafton County and most of Coos County, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a collaboration between federal agencies and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Previously, conditions had been listed as “abnormally dry.”

“These conditions, a result of an exceptionally low snowpack this winter and lack of precipitation, have impacted rivers and streams, groundwater, soil moisture, and reservoirs,” with lake levels beginning to fall, the Department of Environmental Services said in its news release.

The department has advised public water systems in New Hampshire to track their supplies and place restrictions on outdoor water use, according to the release. It is asking private well users to begin conserving now by limiting outdoor use and staggering water usage, giving the well time to recharge.

State officials are also reminding people of the importance of extinguishing fires completely to prevent wildfires.

Moderate drought is the second of five levels tracked by the Drought Monitor, from abnormally dry to exceptional drought.

The local impacts of a moderate drought can include lower hay and grain yields, declining honey production, increased wildfires, stressed trees and lawns, and dropping water levels in lakes, according to the Drought Monitor.

Much of New England is listed as abnormally dry or in a moderate drought, having received little precipitation during the past month or two. That continued this week, paired with higher-than-usual temperatures.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @PCunoBoothKS