Drought Impacts on Maryland
and Chesapeake Bay

Drought in Maryland How Drought Affects
the Chesapeake Bay
Impacts on Plants
and Animals
a photo of a pond in Maryland that shows the effects of the drought Current Drought Status Rainfall during the last three months of 2002, as recorded at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, was 14.75 inches, which is 5.12 inches above the long-term (1971-2000) average for those months (see chart below).  The above average rainfall resulted in flows that ranged from 5 percent below average on the Susquehanna to 160 percent above average on the Choptank.  Potomac flow for December is 46 percent above average, but 41 percent below average for the year. 

Drought impacts include lower water levels in
reservoirs and ponds like this pond in Frederick County

Flow on the Patuxent was 23 percent above normal in December, but is 36 percent below normal for the year.

Overall, freshwater flow into the Bay is 22 percent below normal for 2002. Recent heavy rains over the Chesapeake Bay region and focused on the Eastern Shore have raised surface stream levels, pushed saline waters back into the Bay and slightly increased ground water table levels, however, unless precipitation events continue, stream levels will return to low levels and shallow ground water tables will remain low. The chart below compares precipitation in 2002 to the long-term (1971-2000) average. Rainfall in 2002 only exceeded the long-term average in April, October, November and December; the remaining months were below or well below. Rainfall in October was a tremendous boost for much of the watershed.

Comparison of Precipitation in 2002 to the Long-term (1971-2000) Average

Other Drought Information:

- MD Department of Natural Resources - Current (real-time) water quality conditions and Continuous monitoring conditions

- MD Department of the Environment - Statewide drought information and drought management

- US Geological Survey - Drought Watch (real-time stream flow and ground water levels, soil conditions)

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