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
April 20, 1999
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Declares a Drought for
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. An incipient drought, the first of four levels of drought (incipient,
moderate, severe and extreme) defined in the legislation, increases DNR's monitoring
activities of drought - related variables such as temperature, precipitation, evaporation,
runoff, streamflow, groundwater and reservoir levels, soil moisture and other drought data.
DNR's State Climatology Office has been analyzing the abnormally dry
weather across South Carolina since early 1999. State Climatologist Dr. Michael Helfert
says, "The drier than normal conditions in the
Southeast are associated with the long decay time of the abnormally cool sea surface
temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific."
The statewide average rainfall since January 1st has totaled 11.92 inches,
which is 80% of normal. This number is not representative of all locations with many sites
throughout the state receiving only 65% of normal rainfall since January 1st.
Weekly Total (Inches)
Thus far, the most significant impact has been increased wildfire
activity. The S.C. Forestry Commission issued a Red Flag
Fire Alert for most of South Carolina on Saturday, April 17th. The Alert covers all
counties except Aiken, Allendale, and Barnwell. Forestry Commission authorities say
"low humidities and stiff winds are increasing wildfire danger." Any burning
that is attempted should be done with extreme caution.
The concern for agriculture is increasing rapidly with more rain needed
for germination and development. The South Carolina Agricultural Statistics Service
reports that to date soil moisture ratings are 5% short, 39% very short, 56% adequate.
According to the National Weather Service, a break in the dry pattern is
not expected through the 6 to 10 day forecast period. The long range forecast by the
Climate Prediction Center is for drier than normal conditions through May. Some models
suggest the drier than normal conditions may persist through July.
The state's larger streams,
except in the north central and southern portions of the state, have near normal
streamflows. Streamflows in these regions are much below normal. Flows of smaller local
streams are low. Dr. Bud Badr, DNR hydrologist reports, "Lake levels statewide are
lower than normal for this time of year, but they are above the first level of
To assist in monitoring drought conditions, DNR has developed a South
Carolina Drought Information Center home page that may be accessed on the Internet.
Updated information on rainfall, temperature, soil moisture, river and stream flows,
reservoir and groundwater levels, wildfire potential, various crop growth indices and
other drought related
information can be accessed via the Internet.
The department is working with other state agencies that are also
monitoring drought impacts upon the state's natural resources. Should conditions worsen,
DNR will publish appropriate notices in the affected areas.
Find out more about the State Climatology Office at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/ or by calling (803) 734-9100.