Despite storms, Capital Region ‘abnormally dry’

Rain came Friday evening.

Rain came Friday evening.

Showers also came earlier in the week, on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

It hasn’t been enough. The National Weather Service in Albany describes the Capital Region’s current status as abnormally dry.

“That’s the first stage of the whole drought thing,” said meteorologist Kevin Lipton. “We’re not officially in a drought, but it is definitely abnormally dry.”

Rainfall totals are down between one and three inches. Lipton said the small amounts of spring rain, coupled with a winter that received little snowfall, has meant dry grounds. In many communities, sections of lawn have faded to yellow. Some grass has become dry and crunchy.

Lipton said through Thursday, the area has only received 2.31 inches of rainfall. “That normally should be 3.67 inches,” Lipton said. “We’re 1.36 inches below normal for the month.”

Albany’s numbers are way down.

“We’re actually way below normal at the airport for the year,” Lipton said. “Most of the area is one to three inches, that’s an average. At Albany, since January 1, we’re over five inches below normal, we’re 5.38.”

Lipton added that while Schenectady received decent rainfall in Tuesday’s thunderstorms, Albany received much less.

“What we really need is a widespread, soaking rain across the area,” Lipton said. “In the summertime, it’s hard to get that, it’s always scattered showers and thunderstorms. Some communities will get a good dousing and many others will just kind of miss out on it. They’ll hear a lot of thunder and that’s it.”

Lipton said a steady, drizzle-like rain between six and 12 hours in duration would help bring up water numbers.

Local communities have not issued water restrictions on websites. Donald J. Austin, administrator of the Clifton Park Water Authority, said he’s seeing high demands on the town’s water system.

“We do have odd-even watering restrictions which are in place every year from May 1 to September 30,” Austin said. “We did had some guys go out earlier this week and do some patrolling to try to get people to comply with the odd-even, try to minimize the impact we’re having right now as far as people watering their lawns.”

Clifton Park will hand out warnings if people are seen watering on the wrong days. A second offense means a $100 fine. “So far, we’re holding on OK,” Austin said of town water supplies. “If we can just get some rain periodically, we’d be OK.”

There have been no restrictions in Saratoga Springs, either.

“We’re not foreseeing any issues with the water capacity,” said Anthony “Skip” Scirocco, the city’s commissioner of public works. “We have three systems that are well systems then we have one surface water system. We’re pretty diverse here, and we’re not seeing any issues at all.”

Scirocco said Saratoga hasn’t been all that dry.

“We’ve had our share of showers,” he said. “I would like to see more showers that last a longer time with a lot less impact. We get those bursts every so often.”

Lipton would like to avoid further departures from the norm.

“The more widespread and larger these departures get, then we’re going to start creeping up the stages of drought,” he said. “We’re just below it right now. We’re just on the cusp.”

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog is at

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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