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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

SPECIAL NEWS RELEASE #01 - 22 May 31, 2001


State and local Drought Response Committee members declared a "moderate" drought status for the entire state Wednesday, May 30.

The state and local Drought Response Committee, which met Wednesday, May 30, in Columbia to review conditions and discuss the state's drought status, approved a four-part motion made by Dean Moss, committee member and general manager of the Beaufort/Jasper Water and Sewer Authority in Beaufort. 

The four-part motion provided that: 1) A moderate drought condition is declared for the entire state. 2) The probability of going to severe drought status is high and depends on how much rainfall the state receives over the next two to three weeks. 3) Agriculture, as an economic sector, is already in what appears to be a nearly crisis situation. Rainfall is needed to replenish irrigation supplies and enable crop production. 4) The committee advises all water users that in the near future the situation could become critical. Contingency plans should be made to ensure adequate water supplies in the event of a future serious water shortage.

The committee's decision upgrades the status of two coastal counties – Beaufort and Charleston – along with nine Pee Dee counties - Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg - from an "incipient" drought, the first drought level, to the next level of "moderate" drought. The committee stopped short of declaring a "severe" drought status for portions of the Upstate as some had anticipated. The 35 remaining South Carolina counties already listed in the "moderate" drought level remained unchanged.

A moderate drought declaration, the second of four drought levels specified in the S.C. Drought Response Act of 2000, means that drought conditions have continued to deteriorate and are expected to persist.

Freddy Vang, deputy director of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Land, Water and Conservation Division, says this is just the beginning of the process. "Long-term forecast projections have been remarkably accurate," Vang said. "Based on the outlook, there is a strong probability that the situation is going to get worse between July and October when we have above-normal temperatures and low stream flows. It's prudent that we declare the entire state in moderate drought status with the condition that we continue to monitor. Without significant rainfall we may have to reconvene and upgrade to severe."

Masaaki Kiuchi, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hydrologist, reported groundwater, streamflows and lake levels across the state remain very low. Recent rain should increase streamflow across the state for a short period of time.

Recreational boaters are urged to watch dropping water levels in streams and lakes that could create hazardous conditions and to proceed with extreme caution. Major Alvin Taylor, DNR coordinator of boating safety programs, urges all boaters to be alert to the new water hazards such as shallow water, stumps, logs and old pilings and rocks created by falling waters.

Kiuchi says as temperatures rise and the demand is higher, water should be retained in the lakes as much as possible. The shallow groundwater table in the Coastal Plain and Upstate have benefited from recent rain. However, the response to rain in the Upstate is slow.

SPECIAL NEWS RELEASE #01 - 26 (Continued)

David Baize, a director in the bureau of water at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), says DHEC has contacted water suppliers and dischargers informing them of the status of the drought. "Dischargers are advised to maximize treatment and minimize discharges," Baize said. "DHEC continues to monitor stream quality accordingly. Water suppliers are advised to take appropriate actions to help ensure adequate water for their customers and to notify DHEC of any problems."

David Tompkins, assistant commissioner with the S.C. Department of Agriculture says the drought has taken its toll on farmers, as well. "Some farmers have not planted because of dry weather. Rains received yesterday are helpful but this rain will be gone in about a week," Tompkins said. "We need at least a good inch a week or better. One period of rainfall is not going to get us out of this drought."

Ken Cabe of the S.C. Forestry Commission says recent showers have temporarily improved wildfire conditions, but wildland fire managers say the relief may be short-lived. "So far this month, wildfire occurrence has been twice what is normally expected for May," Cabe said. "During the month, Forestry Commission firefighters have already responded to 670 wildland blazes that burned more than 3,000 acres of forest land."  

But fire is only one area where drought is impacting the state's woodlands. Foresters say if the drought continues, many of the tree seedlings planted last winter are expected to die. If so, this could be the second year in a row for significant reforestation failures due to dry weather.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources, which coordinates the State Drought Program, will continue to monitor the drought situation and provide updates as needed. For more information, contact Hope Mizzell, State Drought Program coordinator, in the DNR State Climatology Office at (803) 737-0800 in Columbia.

-Written by Dawn Mills Campbell -

                                 Deviation From
Station         Precipitation    30 Year Normal
CONWAY               155.61           3.45 
DILLON                128.77         -6.93 
FLORENCE 8 NE         126.86        -10.43 
ORANGEBURG 2          122.84        -17.76 
BISHOPVILLE 8 NNW     117.97        -17.87 
WALTERBORO 2 SW       135.28        -18.14 
SALUDA                126.83        -18.43 
CAMDEN 3 W            117.45        -20.83 
CHESTER 1 NW          122           -23.17 
CHERAW                121.74        -23.91 
CHARLESTON WSO AP     130.17        -24.29 
EDGEFIELD 3 NNE       112.03        -26.56 
JOHNSTON 4 SW         120.62        -27.01  
FORT MILL 4 NW        115.23        -27.33 
SUMTER                116.14        -28.16  
BEAUFORT 7 SW         122.94        -31.13 
AIKEN 4 NE            117.94        -34.96  
UNION 8 SW            112.32        -38.61  
CLEMSON UNIVERSITY    123.69        -39.37  
GRNVL SPART WSO       109.5         -44.17 
CLEVELAND 4 S         133.29        -48.19  
WALHALLA              135.3         -49.24 

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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