Yes, it's still a drought (was: We are very much in a drought)

 Are we in a drought?

The short answer is yes, we are officially in stage 1 drought conditions in our part of northern and central NJ (see first map).

We are defining drought by rainfall deficit and the length of the dry period. Over the 40 days of July and August 2022, we would in a normal year see about 6” of rainfall. Here in eastern Maplewood we have had less than 2” (1.87” to be precise, see second map, red circle marks Maplewood). While the year started out with normal precipitation, the last 60 days have been brutal (see Map 3).

While there is not yet any government-issued specific recommendations for our area, it would be prudent at this point to begin reducing unnecessary water usage. Consider not watering lawn and hardy garden plants, don’t hand-wash cars (commercial car washes recycle water), and conserve water in the home by being mindful of shower length and leaking fixtures and toilets.

 Why haven’t the thundershowers helped, or even shown up?

They have shown up, just not quite here. If you look back at Map 2 you can see that in Bergen County to our north, they have had in some areas, 4” – 6” while we have had less than 2” – simply put, the storms have tended to pass just north of us.

To some extent, this has been due to an annoyingly persistent southerly sea breeze that has literally pushed precipitation north and inland. The cloud photo in this post is from Friday showing the rising storm clouds piled up against the sea breeze over New Jersey. Map 4 shows the same thing in graphic form, the wind and the radar at about 5:00pm Friday. Those storms went mostly north of us. The wind has shifted today so we might get luckier, but the truth is we need much more than a few thunderstorms to make up for the last 60 – 90 days. We need several days of steady, slow rain. Not 1”/hour, but 1” a day for four or five days.

 So when is it going to really rain?

Not anytime soon. The models are pretty dry for the next ten days at least (see map 5). NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is also not optimistic (see Map 6).

 TL : DR

Yes, we are in a moderate drought and we can expect it to persist for at least a few more weeks.


Is disheartening to think that parts of Death Valley have received as much rain as we have over the last month.


Our lawn is one cigarette away from becoming a brush fire.


Thanks, Max! It's so dry! I am hoping we break out of this spell soon. 


We got pummeled by 4 whole minutes of rain tonight.


One thing I have noticed is impact on wildlife. Not sure if it is my imagination but the squirrels and deer look thin. I'm not even mad at the deer for eating up my garden - I feel sorry for them and they can go ahead and take my hostas.



No watering of lawns. Conserve water.


I think a lot of people still don't realize that a lawn going brown in a drought is just the grass going dormant, and does not require rescuing.


Fireflies..... there are no fireflies in our yard. Last year, after sunset, there would be 20 or so in our yard, doing their thing. Two weeks ago, there were around 10. Then three. Sunday, there was one. Monday on, there are none.

On the other hand, I volunteer for the Great Swamp Watershed Association. In past summers, we have upper torso nets to wear while repairing boardwalk or maintaining trails. We have not had to wear the nets since May.


An insect that seems to love the dry grass? Cicada killer wasps. I didn’t even know they existed until this summer, and now on walks, I see them by the dozen in the brownest of yards. 


Not sure if it did much but there was a decent extended light rain early this a.m.


Jaytee said:

No watering of lawns. Conserve water.

There is absolutely no reason to water lawns in August. The grass will survive and any water used is wasted on the homeowner's vanity.


drummerboy said:

I think a lot of people still don't realize that a lawn going brown in a drought is just the grass going dormant, and does not require rescuing.

I know that but the exception is when it is a brand new lawn still getting established.  Unfortunately, that is my situation this year.


sac said:

drummerboy said:

I think a lot of people still don't realize that a lawn going brown in a drought is just the grass going dormant, and does not require rescuing.

I know that but the exception is when it is a brand new lawn still getting established.  Unfortunately, that is my situation this year.

Yes that's true. A bad year to start a new lawn.


Looks like no rain for the next week at least. I’m right proud of my golden colored lawn


Friday... spent 3 hours working in the swamp. 

NOT ONE MOSQUITO !


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

Friday... spent 3 hours working in the swamp. 

NOT ONE MOSQUITO !

My yard is pretty dry but somehow the mosquitos are hanging in.


Drought Update

Thursday, August 18

Our area has been upgraded (downgraded?) to a condition of Stage 2, Severe Drought. The severe area covers all of Union, and significant portions of Sommerset and Middlesex Counties, as well as the southernmost portion of Essex County where Maplewood and South Orange are located and parts of Morris and Hunterdon.

The US Drought Monitor website lists some common impacts of stage 2 as:

Specialty crops are impacted in both yield and fruit size
Producers begin feeding cattle; hay prices are high
Warnings are issued on outdoor burns; air quality is poor
Golf courses conserve water
Trees are brittle and susceptible to insects
Fish kills occur; wildlife move to farms for food
Water quality is poor; groundwater is declining; irrigation ponds are dry; outdoor water restrictions are implemented

Current guidance from the NJ DEP remains the same at this moment, focusing on awareness and voluntary water use reduction.


As of today, according to the NWS, all of Essex County, most of Morris County and large parts of Union County are in severe sought conditions.   This was reported by John Elliot on the CBS 12 o'clock news.

In NY,all of Rockland County as well as a few towns in Nassau and Suffolk have mandatory water restrictions.

Be a good citizen, be smart DON'T WATER YOUR LAWNS. Recently, I have seen a few folks in Maplewood and other towns watering lawns in full sun!

Perhaps we may end up like Las Vegas: the city is removing lawns on municipal properties has "Water Police" driving around a warning, or even ticketing folks for watering in such a manner they are watering theirs sidewalks with water flowing off of the curb into the street.

Lake Mead is at it's lowest point since the time they began filling it up to enable the Hoover Dam to provide hydroelectric power 100 years ago. The water level will shortly be too low to provide electric power AND water for may regional towns.

The NY City water supply is now about 10% below normal.

There are no water supply stats for the numerous northern NJ towns yet posted.

Don't waste water. There currently is no measurable and useful rainfall forecast for our area.




I've seen no evidence that people have stopped watering their lawns.   I wonder how many people who profess to care about the environment water their lawns and have their yards sprayed for mosquitos.


tjohn said:

Looks like no rain for the next week at least. I’m right proud of my golden colored lawn

I've seen no evidence that people have stopped watering their lawns. I
wonder how many people who profess to care about the environment water
their lawns and have their yards sprayed for mosquitos.

Why? There's still enough water for lawns.

How will not watering help the environment? Will it reduce global warming? Lower CO2 emissions? Does water magically disappear, never to be seen again?

If anything, a healthy lawn lowers CO2 levels by converting CO2 to oxygen. It also lowers the temperature around the house, lessening your A/C usage. Try having your house surrounded by concrete or sand. You'll feel like your surrounded by an oven. Park and pasture temperatures are always lower than on streets.


RTrent said:

Why? There's still enough water for lawns.

How will not watering help the environment? Will it reduce global warming? Lower CO2 emissions? Does water magically disappear, never to be seen again?

If anything, a healthy lawn lowers CO2 levels by converting CO2 to oxygen. It also lowers the temperature around the house, lessening your A/C usage. Try having your house surrounded by concrete or sand. You'll feel like your surrounded by an oven. Park and pasture temperatures are always lower than on streets.

my AC has been off since the heat wave broke.  Windows open and I'm comfortable.  And I'm not watering my lawn because I care about others, not just me.


My golden lawn will be just fine when it starts to rain again.


DanDietrich said:

my AC has been off since the heat wave broke.  Windows open and I'm comfortable.  And I'm not watering my lawn because I care about others, not just me.

Enlighten me on how not watering your lawn helps or is caring for others.

Is this like an empathy thing? Someone else doesn't water so you show your care by also not watering? Or are the water pipes so bad where you live that watering denies you neighbors water?


This water that you are pouring onto your lawn comes out of wells and reservoirs and gets treated.  We should be a little careful with that water supply until we get rain to  replenish it.  Right now the drought isn't severe, but we don't know how long it will be until we get rain.  So conserving that resource may help us in the future.  That's why throwing that resource at your lawn so it looks pretty is really a selfish and wasteful act.  


tjohn said:

My golden lawn will be just fine when it starts to rain again.

Usually, yes. If you get a little rain once every two weeks you should be OK.

But not if no water is added longer than a month. In the winter dormancy there is moisture at the roots. In summer drought dormancy and with the heat the moisture will be gone after four weeks. The roots will dry out and shrivel. You need to keep the turf alive.

Let your lawn go dormant when the weather turns hot. Around South Dakota, most lawns are comprised of cool-weather grasses. When conditions get too hot and dry, these grasses will go dormant. Dormancy means active shoot growth will stop. Grasses may turn brown, and some may die, but the crown, rhizomes and roots are still alive. During this time, you want to apply just enough water to keep the turf alive until conditions improve. The best recommendation when the lawn is in dormancy is to provide ¼ to ½ inch of water every two to four weeks. Keep an eye on the weather conditions, because you do not want to bring the turf out of dormancy too early. Breaking dormancy early actually will drain reserves within the plant if conditions remain dry. Once it cools down or rain starts to fall, shot growth will begin again, and the lawn will green up.

https://extension.sdstate.edu/lawn-care-during-drought


RTrent said:


How will not watering help the environment? Will it reduce global warming? Lower CO2 emissions? Does water magically disappear, never to be seen again?


I know. It's Trolling Thursday. But in the chance you are not just busting, it mostly has to do with the water level in reservoirs.... their water level is lower than usual and will not get replenished until fall, if even then.

The last time rain did not appear for months was in the 1960's. People were requested to not water lawns or wash cars (some people washed their own cars back then.) and take other measures to reduce water usage.

After the drought, N.J. paid for the excavation of two new reservoirs, Round Valley and Spruce Run so that there would be a supply of water to draw from in case of future drought. Merrel Creek Reservoir was also constructed at that time but it had the additional function of powering electricity and it may have been privately built. 

Anyways, if the amount of rain that comes to us in fall is lower than average rainfall, we may run out of water in some areas. I don't know how easy it will be to draw water from the two state reservoirs if we need their water as back-up. ''

That is why we need to conserve water.


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

That is why we need to conserve water.

When we need to conserve water to the level where we no longer should water our lawns then I'm sure the NJDEP will again inform us and if need be mandate so.

ps - lawns do offset carbon. But with many lawns the offset is lost due to use gasoline lawn maintenance tools and fertilizer. I'm now using battery and I stopped fertilizing. I have a mulching blade on my mower so I figured the mulched glass clippings provide needed fertilizer.

Those who care about the environment should switch to battery tools (even if they are a pain to recharge) and not fertilize.


RTrent said:

Formerlyjerseyjack said:

That is why we need to conserve water.

When we need to conserve water to the level where we no longer should water our lawns, then I'm sure the NJDEP will inform us and if need be mandate so.

The NJDEP asked us to stop watering our lawns two weeks ago. For a conservative, you seem unduly eager for a government mandate rather than taking personal responsibility.

And for the rest of you.


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