2020 Drought in New England

Open-File Report 2020-1148
By: , and 



Below average and infrequent rainfall from May through September 2020 led to an extreme hydrologic drought across much of New England, with some areas experiencing a flash drought, reflecting its quick onset. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recorded record-low streamflow and groundwater levels throughout the region. In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (2020) declared Aroostook County in Maine and Hillsborough and Merrimack Counties in New Hampshire as crop disaster areas. By the beginning of October, 166 community water systems and 5 municipalities in New Hampshire, more than 100 municipalities in Massachusetts, and several community water supplies in Connecticut, Maine, and Rhode Island had mandatory water restrictions in place.

Suggested Citation

Lombard, P.J., Barclay, J.R., and McCarthy, D.E., 2020, 2020 drought in New England (ver. 1.1, February 2021): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1148, 12 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201148.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Highlights
  • Study Area
  • Drought Definitions
  • Drought Severity
  • Meteorological Drought
  • U.S. Geological Survey Streamflow and Groundwater-Level Monitoring Networks in New England
  • Data Analysis
  • Hydrologic Drought of 2020
  • Groundwater Conditions
  • Comparison of Streamflow Statistics to Previous Droughts
  • Provisional Nature of the Data
  • Acknowledgments
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. U.S. Geological Survey Streamgages and Groundwater Observation Wells Used To Analyze Drought Conditions in New England in 2020
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title 2020 drought in New England
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2020-1148
DOI 10.3133/ofr20201148
Edition Version 1.0: December 22, 2020; Version 1.1: February 11, 2021
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New England Water Science Center
Description Report: 12 p.; 3 Figures; 2 Tables
Country United States
State Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Other Geospatial New England
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details