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Nearly 17 Percent Of Mass. Now In 'Extreme Drought', Gov. Baker Elevates Response

Drought-affected fields at Shaw Farm in Dracut, Massachusetts. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)
Drought-affected fields at Shaw Farm in Dracut, Massachusetts. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)
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Almost 17 percent of Massachusetts is now in an "extreme drought," the U.S. Drought Monitor declared on Thursday.

That's about quadruple the area that was considered in "extreme drought" just last week, which a National Weather Service meteorologist said was unprecedented.

All of Suffolk County and most of Essex, Middlesex and Norfolk counties are now in the affected areas.

Drought conditions in Massachusetts. (Courtesy U.S. Drought Monitor)
Drought conditions in Massachusetts. (Courtesy U.S. Drought Monitor)

In July, Boston received 0.87 inches of rain, more than 2.5 inches shy of the monthly average of 3.43 inches, according to the NWS.

NWS meteorologist Alan Dunham says the recent thunderstorms did little to alleviate the drought conditions in the state.

"What we've had so far in August is some very strong thunderstorms with real heavy downpours," Dunham told WBUR's Newscast Unit, "but a lot of that rain doesn't have chance to soak in — it just runs, runs right off into the streams and rivers."

By Wednesday, the city had received 0.82 inches of rain in August.

During a press conference held Thursday afternoon at a North Andover farm, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker elevated the state's response to the drought conditions and outlined how the state government can help residents.

As part of the state's response, Gov. Baker unveiled a new emergency loan fund to support farms and small businesses that have been hurt by this summer's dry weather.

"We obviously can't control the conditions," Gov. Baker said, "but we can continue to monitor and coordinate, and where possible, prepare in our response and make sure that we communicate effectively with the public and with our federal, state and local partners."

The governor also asked residents to conserve water and check with specific cities and towns to see if any water use restrictions are in place.

The latest forecast includes some showers expected for Monday.

With reporting by WBUR's Newsroom and State House News Service

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