An unusual stretch of soggy July weather has relieved drought conditions in some parts of Maine, but it still hasn’t made up for a dry start to the year or ended the prolonged dry spell.

It rained in Portland on 12 of the first 18 days of July, with just one day of clear skies this month, according to the National Weather Service.

Portland recorded 5.97 inches of rain during the first 18 days of July, nearly 4 inches more than normal. While it has been unusually cool and wet at a peak time for summer vacations and outdoor activities, the rainfall is making a dent in the drought.

“We’ve whittled away at our lack of moisture significantly,” said Andy Pohl, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

Despite the rain this month, however, Portland has still recorded below-normal precipitation for the year. Since Jan. 1, there has been 20.59 inches of precipitation, 4.78 inches below normal, Pohl said.

And even as rain has been falling in some locations, there has been little relief in many northern and western counties and drought conditions remain unchanged, according to the weather service.


About 12 percent of Maine has been removed from drought designation, but moderate and severe drought conditions persist in parts of western Maine, including Oxford, Franklin and Somerset counties. In southern Maine, conditions are now considered abnormally dry.

Nicholas Stasulis, data section chief of the U.S. Geological Survey and co-chair of the Maine Drought Task Force, said there has been some improvement in streamflow conditions in western and coastal Maine from Tropical Storm Elsa’s rainfall this month.

“Though the rain will certainly help with the growing season, my guess is that the rain won’t be enough to remove the drought classification for the central part of the state,” Stasulis said in an email. “It does seem like we have an opportunity for rain this week, which is a good thing.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor is expected to release updated drought information Thursday.

The cool, wet weather isn’t what Maine’s tourism industry ordered for July, but it hasn’t kept a whole lot of tourists from coming, said Matt Lewis, president and CEO of Hospitality Maine.

“I drove to Boston the other day and the highway going up to Maine was completely backed up,” he said. “Does it change what people intended to do (on their vacation)? Yes. People who came planning to primarily go to the beach might have to change their plans somewhat. However, there’s still hikes and other outdoor activities to do.”

More scattered rain showers are on the way for the Portland area, but there also are a couple sunny days ahead, according to the weather service.

Sunshine is expected to make an appearance Tuesday before possible thunderstorms and scattered showers arrive late. More showers are expected Wednesday before a mostly sunny day Thursday.

Staff Writer Diego Lasarte contributed to this article.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: