This year's weather has broken its fair share of records, but there's one potential record breaker that is playing out ominously in the background.
Unless the weather pattern changes dramatically, we are heading toward an unusually hot and dry summer. That's great for beachgoers, but it should also make us consider the impacts on our water supply.
The most worrisome aspect of the winter of 2011-2012 was the lack of rain and snow, which recharges groundwater levels.
Despite this weekend's rain, the overall weather pattern has remained dry. This April is the driest in 100 years. It is also one of the warmest. Brush fires have been a daily occurrence.
Thus far in 2012, there's been half as much rain as normal. The effects are already showing in local rivers such as the Ipswich and the Parker, where the normal flood of spring waters has been noticeably absent. Indeed, data compiled by the U.S. Geographical Survey shows extremely low water flow levels for virtually all rivers throughout the Northeast. The USGS also reports that about half of Massachusetts is under "extreme hydrological drought" due to the lack of water in local rivers.
Local residents and communities should start considering what the weather pattern may mean for the summer, and start taking precautions now. That means conserving water usage as much as possible.
Inside the house, that may mean changing habits when it comes to dishwashing and using the sink. For people who enjoy maintaining lawns and gardens, there's a lot of conservation methods to follow, whether it be buying a rain barrel to collect water from gutters, proper mulching or watering at hours when the sun is low in the sky.
This is shaping up as a year that will go down in the weather history books. Before the hottest and driest days of the summer arrives, we should be prepared.