ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Summer in western New York brought drought with it this year. The weekly drought report puts several towns and cities in a moderate drought as of Thursday morning.
For many, it’s assumed that only a lack of rain determines whether there is a drought or not. According to Jessica Spaccio, that’s not the case.
“Typically when we talk about the drought monitor there are several different factors that go into that, one of them is simply precipitation are we above or below normal things like that,” said Spaccio.
Other factors they look at include, streamflow, groundwater levels, and soil moisture. To get that data though, someone must be recording it. That’s where the NYS Mesonet and people like June Wang come in.
“Before the New York State Mesonet we only had 27 NOAA weather stations and then with the 126 it really spatially covers everything,” said Wang
The mesonet measures a variety of data all across New York, such as soil moisture which is one of the many factors considered when declaring a drought.
Like a traditional weather station you might have in your backyard, the mesonet also measures rainfall, helping to give a better understanding of where and how much rain is falling across the state.
To fill in some of the gaps between the mesonet sites, citizen science groups like CoCoRaHS, or the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network, also take daily rainfall measurements.
“CoCoRaHS is a great network, and you know we have a decent amount of observers across New York State but there are always some places where there is a hole, and we really wish we had an observer over in that town,” said Spaccio.
If you’re interested in becoming a CoCoRaHS observer, you can head to their website and apply to become a citizen scientist. The data you provide will not only help to monitor drought in your area, but it will also provide valuable information to scientists, and meteorologists all over the country.