PORTLAND (AP) – Scientists are declaring that the state’s two-year drought is over, though groundwater levels are still recovering.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Hendricus Lolofs said the dry spell ended officially in the past few weeks, thanks to lots of rain.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is a map created by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the last remnants of drought conditions in northwestern Maine dropped off the map last week.

As of July 29 there is no drought anywhere east of the Mississippi River.

However, Maine is one of the few Eastern states, along with some small patches near the Great Lakes, where abnormally dry conditions remain.

All but Washington, York and Cumberland counties still have below-normal groundwater levels.

“There’s a lot of water in the state, it just didn’t come at the right time to recharge the groundwater,” said Bob Lent, Maine district chief for the U.S. Geological Survey.

Last year’s heavy snowfall and early frost kept the normal cycle of autumn freezing and thawing from replenishing the groundwater, and the unusually cold winter didn’t provide the typical January thaw allowing melting snow to soak into the ground.

As a result, many areas in central and coastal Maine have less groundwater than at this time last summer.

Both surface and groundwater levels remained at drought levels throughout 2002 in much of Maine despite normal amounts of rain and snowfall. It can take several years to make up for a precipitation deficit such as the one the state experienced in 2001.

On average, this year has seen less rainfall than 2002, but trees and plants haven’t suffered. Below-average temperatures have allowed plants to use rain water more effectively.

But the state could still plunge back into drought without continued cool weather and normal rainfall, meteorologists said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.