Extreme, severe drought conditions expand in North Carolina

Press release from North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

Light rain didn’t halt the expansion of drought across the state, with the North Carolina’s Drought Management Advisory Council (DMAC) expanding the Extreme Drought (D3) designation to parts of four additional counties in southwestern North Carolina, and classifying 10 more counties in the Piedmont as in Severe Drought (D2).

The new classifications released Wednesday account for precipitation that occurred as of 8 a.m. Tuesday, but most of the state saw less than a tenth of an inch, said Klaus Albertin, chair of DMAC. Mid-week rainfall would be reflected in next week’s drought update. Albertin said the additional precipitation could help prevent conditions from worsening.

“Typically, rain for this time a year is about an inch a week,” Albertin said. “If we get an inch and a half, it could help, but may not improve conditions dramatically. The mid- to long-term forecast is still for a wet winter due to the El Niño pattern, but it’s expected to be January before we start to see big impacts.”

In western North Carolina, DMAC expanded the Extreme Drought classification to Burke, Jackson, Lincoln and Swain counties, in addition to Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Henderson, Macon, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties. Under Extreme Drought, all water users are advised to follow their Water Shortage Response Plans, adhering to guidelines established during the 2007 drought. Water systems in areas of extreme drought are required to report weekly water usage.

The DMAC also expanded the Severe Drought classification for an additional 10 counties in central North Carolina, encompassing 40 total counties. Until further notice, DMAC strongly urges local government implementation of drought response actions – in addition to previous advisories – for all water users located in, or dependent on, water resources from the areas of the state in Severe Drought conditions. Recommendations include examining water delivery systems to minimize loss and maximize efficiency, eliminating non-essential water use and evaluating options for reuse, reclamation and/or recycling into daily operations.

In addition, abnormally dry (D0) to moderate (D1) drought conditions continued in eastern North Carolina. Across the state, all of or parts of 96 counties were classified as abnormally dry or worse.

DMAC’s drought map is updated weekly on Thursdays. The next map update will be on Nov. 30. To learn more, visit ncdrought.org/education.

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