South Carolina Drought News Release
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Land, Water and Conservation Division
South Carolina Drought Response Program
Department of Natural Resources News (803) 734-4133
SPECIAL NEWS RELEASE December 3, 1998 Drought Status Report
DROUGHT CONDITIONS DETERIORATE STATEWIDE
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is concerned about the
continued deterioration of drought conditions since it declared an incipient drought on
Statewide rainfall has averaged 58% of normal for October and November. Rainfall
deficits for specific areas of the state are: 51% (Greenville), 22% (Columbia), 57%
(Pinopolis) to 50% (Edisto Island) of normal. Statewide temperatures have averaged 4
degrees above normal. Preliminary results indicate the average temperature statewide
for this fall (September - November) was 66 degrees, making it the third warmest fall
since record keeping began in 1895.
According to State Climatologist Dr. Michael Helfert, "The unusual dryness of South
Carolina and throughout the Southeast is due to the abnormal flow of the jet stream
across the US. This jet stream position is controlled by a number of factors, one being
the La Nina phenomenon."
The NOAA Climate Prediction Center is forecasting that this La Nina condition may
persist through May 1999, which could extend our potential for drought during that
period. Previous historical La Ninas have had similar strong winter and spring droughts
for the Southeast US. Earlier La Nina winters have also been marked by warmer than
Dr. Helfert adds, "It is possible that by spring 1999, South Carolina could be in a severe
drought situation. This could pose significant problems for water suppliers, forest fire
conditions, or early planting conditions for 1999."
Wildfire is already a major concern as dry conditions persist throughout the state. Fire
occurrence is increasing; Forestry Commission firefighters report that intense burning
is making it difficult to bring fires under control.
Anyone planning to burn outdoors should carefully follow the precautionary
requirements of state and local burning laws. "This is no time to take shortcuts with fire
safety," said Ken Cabe of the SC Forestry Commission.
As a result of the drought conditions, streamflows are declining. "Streamflows are
extremely low in the western portion South Carolina. The lakes in the Savannah River
Basin are about four feet lower than the normal stage at this time of the year,"
according to Dr. Bud Badr, Hydrologist with the SC Department of Natural Resources.
A survey of water suppliers across the state conducted by the SC Department of
Natural Resources indicates that most reserves are adequate to meet demands at this
However, Freddy Vang, Deputy Director of the SC Department of Natural Resources'
Land, Water and Conservation Division, stated, "All users of water should be
particularly cautioned that the present drought conditions throughout our region may
intensify over the next three months."
DNR will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed. Integrated
drought information is available on the DNR's State Climatology Office Internet Web
Find out more about the State Climatology Office at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/ or by calling (803) 734-9100.