RALEIGH – North Carolina’s Drought Management Advisory Council (DMAC) has introduced its Severe Drought category (D2 classification) for parts of Cleveland, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties. Severe drought is the second category of the four drought classifications based on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Twenty-three counties in western North Carolina are considered to be in the Moderate Drought category (D1 classification).
“Since the middle of September, the western half of the state has only had a handful of minor rain events, and they missed out on the moisture from Tropical Storm Ophelia late last month,” said Corey Davis, assistant state climatologist with the NC State Climate Office. “While this dry spell has been fairly short so far, it has also been pronounced, with rainfall deficits in western N.C. of 3 to 10 inches since Sept. 1. That has hastened the return of Severe Drought to parts of the region for the third time in the past three falls.”
Most of the state is experiencing dry conditions based on factors including streamflow, groundwater levels, reservoir levels, soil moisture and fire danger. Eastern North Carolina benefited from rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Ophelia in September but has seen little rain in the past month. The Triad and western Piedmont are considered to be Abnormally Dry (D0), with rainfall deficits of 2 to 4 inches over the last 60 days.
“The forecast for the next two weeks shows little chance of rain so conditions statewide are likely to gradually worsen,” said Klaus Albertin, chair of the DMAC. “We are entering an El Niño pattern, which usually brings cool, wet weather to the Southeast, so we are hoping to see conditions improve by mid-winter.”
DMAC’s drought map is updated weekly on Thursday. The next update will be on Thursday, Nov. 2.
DMAC is a collaboration of drought experts from various government agencies in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina, and organized by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources (DWR). Members of DMAC meet weekly and submit their drought condition recommendations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center for updates to the U.S. Drought Monitor (i.e., drought map), a map of the nation’s drought conditions. To view North Carolina’s drought map, visit www.ncdrought.org. To view the U.S. drought map, visit http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.