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South Carolina State Climatology Office
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South Carolina Current Drought Status

State Climate Office                
NEWS RELEASE          DNR News 803-667-0696
November 10, 1998

South Carolina Department of Natural ResourcesDeclares a Drought for South Carolina

South Carolina Drought Map for November 10, 1998

For previously issued drought statements see the archived status reports.

Table of all counties and drought status.
Drought Response Committee Meeting Sign-In sheet.

On the basis of recent low precipitation totals statewide, declining soil moisture levels, and declining surface water flows, and under the authority of the S.C. Drought Response Act of 1985, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has issued an incipient drought declaration for the entire state.

At the incipient drought level, one of four levels defined in the legislation, the DNR increases its monitoring activities of drought-related variables such as precipitation, temperature, runoff, streamflow, evaporation, groundwater levels, soil moisture, reservoir levels, and other data. The DNR is also required to notify the affected areas and to serve as the primary agency to coordinate the State's response.

According to Dr. Michael Helfert, State Climatologist in the Department's Land, Water & Conservation Division, "The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) has issued climate outlooks that indicate that abnormally dry conditions will most likely persist through the winter and spring of 1998/99. The State Climatology Office is concerned about the impacts of this climate outlook for our rain-fed agricultural sector, forestry, and water storage providers. There is particular concern about the advisability of normal deep drawdowns of regional reservoirs this coming winter for seasonal cleaning and maintenance. The NOAA climate outlook for the forthcoming winter and spring is dependent upon the persistence of the 'moderate' La Nina cold phase in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Historical La Nina precipitation patterns should be a component in agricultural and hydrologic decision-making."

The State Climatology Office has reviewed the historical precipitation records for the 20th Century La Ninas to determine the lowest precipitation totals in the Southeast, state-by-state, during La Nina episodes. Most impacted by previous La Nina droughts have been Florida and South Carolina. In these two states, the five-month winter-spring rainfall "worst case" precipitation total during a severe La Nina is estimated to be as low as one-third of the normal. For South Carolina, records show that the most likely scenario for a forthcoming La Nina dry winter and spring is that the five months of December-April will have a precipitation total with a range of as great as 21.9" to as little as 12.75". The greatest probability, according to the guidance of the NOAA climate outlook, is for the lower range of 12.75" rather than the normal statewide average of just over 20" of rainfall for the December 1998 through April 1999 timeframe.

Complicating matters is that precipitation across the state has been suppressed since June 1998. If the influence of a few remnant tropical storms is subtracted from the 1998 summer and early autumn rainfall totals, South Carolina's rainfall would be minimal. At this time, most crops have completed their life cycle and harvests are being completed. One of the primary concerns is that soil moisture conditions are under 10% of normal capacity in large areas of the state. Additionally streamflows and reservoir/lake levels are already at very low levels following the minimal rains of September and October. These present low soil and surface water conditions should be of great concern as we are apparently in only the early stages of a reduced precipitation period.

The recent showers have brought little relief to this rainfall deficit. Statewide rainfall has averaged 55% of normal for the period October 1 - November 9, 1998. Rainfall deficits for specific areas of the state are as follows (see attached map): Allendale (50%), Anderson (30%), Columbia (9%), Charleston (55%), Florence (8%), Greenville-Spartanburg (62%), Myrtle Beach (63%), and Saluda (61%).

Lack of precipitation has produced dangerously dry forest fuel conditions throughout the Sandhill belt and Pee Dee of South Carolina. Conditions in the lower Coastal Plain are less severe, but fuels there are also unseasonably dry. "The fuel bed is ready to burn", said Ken Cabe, Fire Information Officer from the South Carolina Forestry Commission. "If we start getting wind the fire danger is going to escalate rapidly."

The National Weather Service 6-10 day outlook is for normal precipitation and below normal temperature. Mayors, county administrators, public service districts, and local water suppliers are asked to review their drought response plans and ordinances and notify the Department's Drought Information Center in Columbia if drought ordinances or plans are implemented, or if other related problems arise.

Contact Dr. Mizzell in Columbia at (803) 734-9568 or e-mail at mizzellh@dnr.sc.gov for more information.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people. Find out more about DNR at the DNR Web site.

Drought Status Table

Current Drought Status by County
Normal Incipient Moderate Severe Extreme
County
Status
County
Status
County
Status
County
Status
County
Status
ABBEVILLE
Incipient
AIKEN
Incipient
ALLENDALE
Incipient
ANDERSON
Incipient
BAMBERG
Incipient
BARNWELL
Incipient
BEAUFORT
Incipient
BERKELEY
Incipient
CALHOUN
Incipient
CHARLESTON
Incipient
CHEROKEE
Incipient
CHESTER
Incipient
CHESTERFIELD
Incipient
CLARENDON
Incipient
COLLETON
Incipient
DARLINGTON
Incipient
DILLON
Incipient
DORCHESTER
Incipient
EDGEFIELD
Incipient
FAIRFIELD
Incipient
FLORENCE
Incipient
GEORGETOWN
Incipient
GREENVILLE
Incipient
GREENWOOD
Incipient
HAMPTON
Incipient
HORRY
Incipient
JASPER
Incipient
KERSHAW
Incipient
LANCASTER
Incipient
LAURENS
Incipient
LEE
Incipient
LEXINGTON
Incipient
MARION
Incipient
MARLBORO
Incipient
MCCORMICK
Incipient
NEWBERRY
Incipient
OCONEE
Incipient
ORANGEBURG
Incipient
PICKENS
Incipient
RICHLAND
Incipient
SALUDA
Incipient
SPARTANBURG
Incipient
SUMTER
Incipient
UNION
Incipient
WILLIAMSBURG
Incipient
YORK
Incipient


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Sign-In Sheet

SC Drought Response Committee Meeting, November 10, 1998
Sign-In sheet
Name & AgencyName & Agency

Find out more about the State Climatology Office at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/ or by calling (803) 734-9100.

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