Drought conditions across the state have moved up a notch, according to the June 19 advisory from the U.S. Drought Monitor of North Carolina. For the first time since March, the highest drought category (exceptional drought) has been invoked under the weekly ratings, affecting seven N.C. counties; and 33 counties are just behind in the next highest level (extreme drought).
Most Western North Carolina counties are in the top two tiers: Jackson, Rutherford and Transylvania counties are experiencing exceptional-drought conditions; Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, Mitchell, Swain, Wilkes and Yancey counties are in extreme drought.
All 100 counties in the state are currently under one of the five drought categories, with response actions strongly urged. Maps and archives of the ratings, along with stream and lake conditions and advice for community responses, are available on the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council’s Web site.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor