Drought Conditions in Maine, 1999-2002: A Historical Perspective

Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4310


By Pamela J. Lombard


Augusta, Maine 2004


This report is available as a pdf.



Hydrologic drought can be defined as reduced streamflow, declining ground-water levels, and (or) reductions in lake or reservoir levels. Monthly precipitation totals, annual 7-day low-flow surface-water recurrence intervals, and month-end ground-water levels from drought years 1999-2002 show that 1999-2002 was the driest period of hydrologic drought in more than 50 years of record in Maine. Record lows were set in all three data sets at select locations in central Maine in April 1999, and in September 2001 and 2002. Although streamflows recovered to normal levels during 2000, ground-water levels in central Maine indicate that the drought carried over through 2000 into 2001 and 2002 in some locations.

In 2001, annual 7-day low flows with greater than 100-year recurrence intervals were recorded in central Maine and low flows with up to 75-year recurrence intervals were recorded in coastal areas. In 2002, annual 7-day low flows with greater than 100-year recurrence intervals were recorded at 4 of 14 stations analyzed statewide, placing it as the driest single year of hydrologic drought on record. Month-end ground-water levels at one location in central Maine indicate that the recent hydrologic drought years were the most severe in more than 50 years in that region. The period from 1947 to 1950 may have been the only comparable period of drought to the 1999-2002 period, in Maine. The 1960s drought, although extreme in the far northern and far southern regions of the State, was most exceptional for its duration from 1963 to 1969.




Purpose and Scope

Drought Definition

Previous Studies


Data Compilation

Precipitation Gages

Streamflow-Gaging Stations

Monitoring Wells

Drought Conditions in Maine from 1999 to 2002


Surface Water

Ground Water

Annual Recurrence Intervals of 7-Day Surface-Water Low Flows

Comparison of 1999-2002 Drought to Historical Droughts in Maine

Annual Recurrence Intervals of 7-Day Surface-Water Low Flows

Ground-Water Levels at Middle Dam, Lower Richardson Lake, Maine

Interaction among Precipitation, Surface Water, and Ground Water During Drought

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

For additional information write to:

District Chief

U.S. Geological Survey

196 Whitten Road

Augusta, Maine 04330


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U.S. Geological Survey

Information Services

Building 810

Box 25286, Federal Center

Denver, CO 80225-0286

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