The 1980–81 Drought in Southeastern New York

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, State University of New York at Albany, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12222
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This paper examines moisture conditions in southeastern New York during 1980 and early 1981. Precipitation and moisture budget calculations indicate that a net water deficit did exist at that time, but it was not severe enough to account for the drought warning that was issued. Despite this fact, reservoir levels dropped in early 1981 to their lowest value since the last major East Coast drought in 1965. Investigation of New York City water-consumption levels over the previous 40 years indicates that a major factor in the water deficit was the dependence on above-average rainfall for the stability of the water supply. This dependence was a major contributing factor to the similar problems that took place in the falls of 1981, 1982, and 1983.

This paper examines moisture conditions in southeastern New York during 1980 and early 1981. Precipitation and moisture budget calculations indicate that a net water deficit did exist at that time, but it was not severe enough to account for the drought warning that was issued. Despite this fact, reservoir levels dropped in early 1981 to their lowest value since the last major East Coast drought in 1965. Investigation of New York City water-consumption levels over the previous 40 years indicates that a major factor in the water deficit was the dependence on above-average rainfall for the stability of the water supply. This dependence was a major contributing factor to the similar problems that took place in the falls of 1981, 1982, and 1983.

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