More Drought Showing Up

Well the forecast really has not changed a lot in several weeks and that means we’re getting drier and drier in the Carolinas. This is really starting to show up on the Drought Monitor. Climatologist Corey Davis, what do you see?

That’s right, Mike. If you just look back over the last three to four weeks, we’ve seen some pretty drastic degradations on the Drought Monitor map, especially across the western half of the Carolinas. This week. We’re now seeing moderate drought covering the majority of the southern and central mountains of North Carolina and most of upstate South Carolina. And we’ve actually seen the introduction of severe drought. This is the second of four drought categories on the Drought Monitor. So it’s a fairly isolated area for now really just on the east side. of Greenville and Spartanburg up toward the west side of Charlotte. We expect three quarters of an inch to an inch of rain every week, this time of the year. So we’re only seeing half an inch at the most that just doesn’t cut it and that does lead to these expanding drought and dry conditions.

But over the past few falls now we’ve started to see this as a pattern where we get into the fall months and we see expanding dryness is that not right?

That’s right. In fact, this is the third fall in a row and we’ve seen this same severe drought category across the western North and South Carolina. If you look back to last year, the timing was pretty similar. It was really during October when we saw most of that dryness the year before back in 2021. It was mainly November when we had those dry conditions but no matter when it’s happened. It has seen some similar impacts. Mostly for farmers. It’s been with some of the winter crops struggling to get those to germinate and get those in the ground. We have seen some local water systems implement conservation measures just to make sure their water supplies can hold out. And then especially with surface water conditions, we’ve seen some of those creeks and streams, some of those beautiful waterfalls in the mountains unfortunately running pretty dry as well. One thing we haven’t yet seen this year is flood of fire activity. But we do expect if it remains dry the by the middle of November. When you get those leaves falling off the trees we could see more fire danger as well.

So with this being the third year in a row, I have to ask the question, Is this the new normal now are we just going to expect that fall is just going to be a very dry time in the Carolinas?

Well, it does feel like a trend because it’s happened three years in a row but if you look back the year before that in 2020, there was no sign of dryness in fact, we had had multiple remnant tropical systems moving either from the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. That was a very wet fall. So if anything I would say we’re heading more toward the extremes at this time of the year.