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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



After meeting with the S.C. Drought Response Committee today in Columbia, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has issued a moderate drought declaration for all counties in South Carolina. A moderate drought declaration, which is the second of four drought levels specified in the Drought Response Act of 1985, means that drought conditions have continued to deteriorate and are expected to persist. Therefore, the Department's Land, Water & Conservation Division will increase its monitoring and assessment of drought-related variables such as temperature, precipitation, runoff, streamflow, ground-water levels, reservoir levels, soil moisture, and public water supplies. The State Drought Response Committee is comprised of representatives from five state agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Health & Environmental Control, Department of Natural Resources, Forestry Commission, and Emergency Preparedness Division.

The Crop Moisture Index, which measures short-term soil moisture needed for crop growth, indicates that extremely dry conditions exist across the state and are severely impacting growers and grazing livestock throughout South Carolina. Freddy Vang, Deputy Director of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' Land, Water and Conservation Division, told the committee that the Department is working with members of the agricultural community both here and in Washington to determine what measures can be taken to alleviate these "difficult times for the farmers in our state." "We are keenly aware of the severity of the situation with regard to the agricultural community," said Vang. "If there is any action that we can take to assist those whose livelihood depends on agricultural and forestry interests, then we are prepared to act immediately."

The National Weather Service forecast calls for a coastal storm that will bring possibly one inch of rain from Beaufort to Myrtle Beach with lesser amounts inland to Columbia over the next 48-72 hours. According to State Climatologist Mike Helfert, "Such a rainfall event will not be sufficient to end the current drought situation where some areas in the state have received less than 40% of normal rainfall since June 1, 1998 (see enclosed map). Although the long-term forecast for the remainder of July does not indicate any substantial relief, it does call for above normal rainfall in August and September."

A survey of water suppliers across the sate conducted by the Department indicates that most reserves are adequate to meet the increased demand. According to Vang, "Excess rainfall in the late winter and spring of this year has contributed to ample storage in large reservoirs and aquifers. However, those water suppliers who depend on ground-water wells in the Piedmont, and small reservoirs or unregulated streams may experience water shortages in the near future," said Vang. The Drought Response Committee encourages local water suppliers to review drought response ordinances and plans for their area. The Department's Drought Information Center has been activated in Columbia, and the public is asked to contact the Center at 803-737- 0800 if they need additional information, or if other problems arise.

Larry Barr, Fire Management Staff Forester from the South Carolina Forestry Commission, told the Committee today that "South Carolina is at a high level of fire danger. The current drought situation has contributed significantly to the increase in available fuels across the state." Barr also said that since July 1, the number of fires has increased significantly.

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 Site: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/drought_info.html

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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