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South Carolina State Climatology Office
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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

November 16, 2006


State agency representatives on the State Drought Response Committee decided today to delay making any drought declaration but to increase the monitoring of drought indices and to reconsider the possibility of drought declaration in two weeks if no significant rains have begun.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) convened state agency members of the S.C. Drought Response Committee Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Columbia to evaluate the overall statewide conditions. Here is a rainfall summary for Sept. 1 to Nov. 15 for different areas of the state: Columbia, 2.48 inches; Greenville-Spartanburg, 3.46 inches; Sumter, 4.28 inches; Chester, 2.91 inches; Anderson, 4.02 inches; Beaufort, 5.52 inches; Florence, 4.6 inches; and Charleston, 6.39 inches.

"If we get into December with no signs of relief such as frontal rains, we have a problem that will need to be addressed by the drought committee, said Hope Mizzell, S.C. State Climatologist with the DNR "If we reach January with no relief, we have a bigger problem. Drought conditions vary across the state with coastal South Carolina experiencing no drought problems. The last major period of rains occurred with Tropical Storm Tammy when most areas received about three inches, but up to 10 inches fell in coastal counties and in isolated Upstate areas.

Our most recent rains yesterday were recorded as 0.80 inches at Caesar's Head and less than 0.20 inches in other areas, with many locations reporting no rain, Mizzell said. Late next week appears to be our next opportunity to receive intermittent rains.

"We are certainly not yet experiencing the dire conditions experienced during the record drought of 1998-2002, but everyone needs to be aware of the potential for drought at least in some areas of the state," said Mizzell. Our current situation is not just a problem with the amount of rain, but the limited number of rain days we have received."

David Tompkins, the S.C. Department of Agriculture reports no problems with present soil moisture conditions but that significant winter rains will be needed to recharge the soil for improved small-grain growth pastures and for spring planting. DNR hydrologist Bud Badr reported that two-thirds of all stream gaging stations are low, but that all major lakes are up to normal levels, though the discharge from these lakes is down due to reduced inflow.

David Baize, with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, said that no public or industrial water systems are reporting any supply problems at this time. S.C. Forestry Commission fire expert, Larry Barr, says fuels are much drier than normal this fall. Wildfires occurring in these conditions burn deeply into the fuel layer, creating significant control difficulties. Firefighters are concerned that if these conditions persist, South Carolina could be facing severe problems by the time wildfire season begins in January.

Should a drought declaration need to be made later, an incipient drought declaration is the first level of drought followed by moderate, severe, and extreme. During incipient drought, the DNR activates the Drought Information Center, increases monitoring and notification of the drought status.

If conditions continue to deteriorate, the DNR will reconvene the drought response committee in early December. For additional information related to this news release, contact Hope Mizzell with DNR in Columbia at (803) 530-5793 (cell). -Written by Mike Creel -

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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