This September is shaping up to be one of Portland’s driest since record-keeping began 148 years ago.

Before Thursday, the city had gotten only 0.17 inches of rain, but the 0.24 inches that had fallen by Thursday evening dropped September 2019 to third on the list at 0.42 inches, said Derek Schroeter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

The only rain forecast for the rest of the month is for Saturday night, he said.

The driest September on record was in 1948, when a mere .30 inches of rain fell in Portland. The second driest occurred in 1917 when Portland recorded .32 inches of rain.

The current stretch of dry weather follows an unusually wet spring. For the months of April, May and June, rainfall amounts in Portland exceeded the average, according to the National Weather Service.

In April, 5.19 inches of rainfall was recorded, 4.1 inches fell in May, and 5.85 inches fell in June. April averages of 3.77 inches of rain, May averages 3.51 inches and June averages 3.46 inches.

July was drier with just 2.53 inches of rain, below the average of 3.19 inches. In August, Portland recorted 4.47 inches of rain, far above the monthly average of 3.11.

“A lot of the Northeast has been experiencing very dry conditions, but not enough yet to be considered a drought,” Schroeter said. A drought is a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall leading to a shortage of water.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, which examines conditions throughout the United States, is an online map released every Thursday that shows parts of the United States that are experiencing drought or abnormally dry conditions.

Most of coastal, southern and western Maine are experiencing abnormally dry conditions, according to the map.

The Drought Monitor said abnormally dry September is stunting crop growth, elevating fire dangers, turning lawns brown early, and causing surface water levels to decline.

The dry weather does not appear to be affecting fall foliage. The Maine Office of Tourism in its fall foliage report says the leaf-peeping season is set to arrive “right on track” this year.

Earlier this month, leaves started to turn in far northern Maine. The Maine Office of Tourism says northern Maine usually reaches peak foliage during the last week of September and the first week of October. The rest of the state typically sees peak color in mid-October. Coastal regions peak in mid to late October.

The Maine Department of Agriculture on Wednesday said that there has been a 50 percent color change and a 30 percent leaf drop in northern Maine. Portland and areas in southern Maine are seeing a 10 percent to 30 percent color change.

The National Weather Service said that a cold front will move into Maine Thursday night into Friday, bringing cooler air and fair weather.





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