Classic El Nino Conditions Bring Moisture to Carolinas

North Carolina Assistant State Climatologist Corey Davis says the late December rain wiped most of the drought conditions off the map in North and South Carolina. And as we start off 2024, it’s hard to believe but we’re starting off pretty wet. This was certainly not the case a month ago. Wow.

Certainly a dire situation coming out of the fall into the winter. And we had high hopes that with this El Nino event in place, we would eventually see a switch to a wetter pattern. But what surprised me was just how soon that happened. Within the first or second week of December, we started seeing just back-to-back rain events and some pretty heavy ones at bat. We actually had another one at the end of the month right after Christmas. This was the biggest one of all. We had pretty widespread totals of at least two inches across a good chunk of North and South Carolina, some totals of around three inches right along the coastline. And the higher amounts came in the foothills and in upstate South Carolina. There are places there that got five, six, close to seven inches from that one event.

Now while we don’t have a lot of farmers in the Carolinas right now out in the fields, this has still got to be good news for agriculture.

It really is, especially looking ahead to the spring. You know we’re only two to three months away from that springtime planting beginning, and with the way the drought looked coming out of the fall, there were already concerns starting to emerge that would there be enough soil moisture for spring planting if we didn’t get that rainfall recovery during the winter? Again, with the El Nino pattern, we were confident in seeing a wet winter this year, just not sure exactly when that would happen. But even based on the rains that we’ve already had in December, if we were near normal for January and February those farmers should be in good shape going into the spring, but we certainly expect we’re going to continue this wetter weather over the next couple of months.

And speaking of that, are we going to continue it over the next week?

The first rain event of the year is going to happen tomorrow. And that’s expected to bring around half inch to an inch of rainfall to most areas and we’ll get a couple of days of a break. We’ll warm up a little bit on Monday and Tuesday. And then by Tuesday we’ll have our next rain event and this looks like it’s going to be a bigger one.