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Environment and Outdoors
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Inland And Western Maine Still Experiencing Drought As Storms Hit Coast

Maine Drought Potatoes
David Sharp
Fields are covered with flowering potato plants on Sunday, July 19, 2020, near Fort Fairfield, Maine. The vast majority of Maine's thousands of acres of potato farms are located in Aroostook County in northern Maine, which is experiencing the driest summer on record.

While the coast of Maine has received normal and even very heavy rainfalls this summer, inland areas remain too dry.

Almost 68% of Maine is still experiencing abnormal dryness and varying drought conditions, according to the latest USGS drought map.

Dave Fuller with the Franklin County Cooperative Extension office says he's starting to see the effects on some of the trees..

"Some of the conifer trees in particular- the pines. The pines have been undergoing stress for a number of years now with the decreased rainfall that we've been getting," says Fuller.

Parts of Franklin, Somerset, and Oxford counties have been in the grips of severe drought for weeks.

Fuller says he just fielded a call from a woodlot owner concerned about his balsam firs. "Trees are suffering where they're on well drained soil- sandy soil, or maybe gravel or something like that. They're suffering some drought stress" Fuller says weakened, stressed trees are also more open to fungal infections and less able to withstand certain pests.

Meanwhile, Portland had its rainiest July since 1915, and this summer's storm patterns have continued to hug the coast.

"As the jet stream sort of gets in a certain pattern you tend to have the same areas get hit with the precipitation, and that's what's happened in the past month or so. Southern New Hampshire and coastal Maine have gotten the rain while the northern areas have been missed," says National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Kimble.

However, Kimble says NOAA's long-range forecast shows a chance of higher than average rainfall for the autumn, meaning that the situation could turn around in a few months.