East Coast Drought Is Over

PHILADELPHIA -- A snowy and rainy winter has pulled the East Coast out of its five-year drought, replenishing lakes and aquifers from Georgia to Maine.

Coastal states averaged about 25 percent more precipitation than the typical 3 to 4 inches a month from October to March, according to the National Weather Service. Virginia recorded its 10th-wettest winter in 108 years, and Maryland its 11th.

"That really did the trick," said Douglas LeComte, a drought specialist with the weather service's Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md. "I think it's going to stay ended."

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the drought's end but said northern Maine and parts of Vermont still have drought conditions.

In Georgia, all the moisture has been a mixed blessing. It sweetens the world-famous Vidalia onion but also prevents farmers from spraying for destructive bacteria and fungi. Already there are sporadic reports of damage to the state's $80 million onion crop, which will be harvested from mid-April through June.

Up and down the East Coast, wells are at or above normal levels -- even the deepest ones in the mid-Atlantic region. Many have not been this high since 1998, LeComte said.

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-- From News Services