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State Climate Office                
NEWS RELEASE #16-126          DNR News 803-667-0696
July 8, 2016

Drought Response Committee declares "moderate" drought conditions in four Upstate counties

South Carolina Drought Map for July 8, 2016

Move cursor over the dates below to view a previous drought status map.
Oct 5, 2015 |  Sep 24, 2015 |  Jul 16, 2015 |  Jun 19, 2015 |  Jan 15,2015  |  Nov 20, 2014 | 
Sep 16, 2014 |  Apr 24, 2013 |  Jan 31, 2013 |  Dec 11, 2012 |  Sep 27, 2012 |  Jul 19, 2012 | 
Jun 6, 2012 |  Apr 25, 2012 |  Mar 9, 2012 |  Nov 8, 2011 |  Sep 29, 2011 |  Sep 8, 2011 | 
Jul 14, 2011 |  Jun 17, 2011 |  Jun 2, 2011 |  Feb 3, 2011 |  Nov 23, 2010 |  Oct 7, 2010 | 
Jul 9, 2010 |  Dec 9, 2009 |  Oct 16, 2009 |  Sep 24, 2009 |  Sep 2, 2009 |  Jun 10, 2009 | 
Apr 15, 2009 |  Feb 19, 2009 |  Oct 28, 2008 |  Sep 16, 2008 |  Aug 5, 2008 |  Jun 30, 2008 | 
Apr 16, 2008 |  Jan 22, 2008 |  Sep 5, 2007 |  Jun 6, 2007 |  May 8, 2007 |  Feb 23, 2007 | 
Sep 20, 2006 |  Aug 16, 2006 |  Apr 27, 2006 | 
For previously issued drought statements see the archived status reports.

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

The S.C. Drought Response Committee, meeting via conference call on July 8, 2016, upgraded the drought status for 32 South Carolina counties. Twenty eight counties were upgraded to the first level of drought, “incipient”, and four counties were upgraded to “moderate” ,the second level of drought. Beaufort and Jasper, and counties in the Pee Dee Region remain in “normal”, or non-drought condition.

According to State Climatologist Hope Mizzell, most counties in South Carolina have seen above average temperatures and below average rainfall during the past month, with few exceptions. “The majority of the state has been dry and hot,” said Mizzell. “Counties that were not upgraded have received near normal amounts of rainfall over the last 30 days.”

“I’ve been on the Drought Committee a long time, and I’ve never seen a drought cycle develop and deteriorate so quickly,” said Dennis Chastain, a well-known naturalist and West Area Drought committee member from Pickens. “In my opinion three things account for this; the rainfall deficit, the abnormally high temperatures and the wind, which has significantly increased evaporation. All three factors have worked together to quickly exasperate the drought.”

In Upstate areas hit hard in recent weeks by higher temperatures and lack of rainfall, some crops are withering, and the first cutting of hay has been poor, reported committee member Brad Boozer, who represents the S.C. Department of Agriculture. Boozer described hearing from row crop farmers in some areas of the state that late-planted fields of corn and soybeans have, in some cases, failed to germinate due to lack of rainfall, and from some Upstate farmers who reported purchasing hay for livestock due to the lack of available grass. Such agriculture-related concerns prompted committee members to take the somewhat unusual step of moving Pickens, Oconee, Anderson and Abbeville counties directly into moderate status, skipping the typical lower-level stage of “incipient”.

According to Blake Badger, with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, pasture conditions are deteriorating further, resulting in some producers reducing cattle inventory. Several meeting participants expressed concern over the long-term availability of hay for livestock feeding.

The table below provides selected station rainfall totals and departure from normal values for the period June 1 – July 8.

STATION NAMEObservation
(Inches)
Departure
Cleveland 1.93 -4.27
Anderson County Airport 0.07-4.10
Charleston AFB 3.42-3.90
Greenville-Spartanburg 1.32-3.62
Columbia Metro 2.65-3.60
Newberry 1.86-3.52
Santuck 2.46-2.40
Chester 4.23-1.22
Florence Regional 4.97-0.42
Clark Hill 4.940.19
Sullivans Island 6.270.31
Manning 6.660.35
Marion 7.361.66
Cheraw 10.584.65

According to Mizzell, extreme temperatures, which increase evapotranspiration and cause low and decreasing soil moisture, can create a situation that is often referred to as a “flash drought.” A flash drought develops rapidly with impacts observed quickly, especially to agriculture.

Daryl Jones, S.C. Forestry Commission Forest Protection Chief, reported that since late June, fire ignitions have been increasing and the SCFC is preparing for an active late summer to early fall fire season.

Scott Harder, a hydrologist with the DNR, advised the committee that the recent below normal rainfall has led to notable declines in streamflow levels in the declared counties. The drop in streamflow combined with the increased evaporation from above normal temperatures has also caused small, but ongoing declines in reservoir levels in the Saluda and Savannah Basins. According to National Weather Service Senior Hydrologist/Meteorologist Leonard Vaughan, the short term forecast calls for temperatures to remain above normal with little to no improvement in rainfall chances across the Palmetto State for the next one to two weeks.

There was discussion and recognition by the Committee following the water system status report provided by S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control Bureau of Water Chief David Baize, that thankfully at this point, there have been no reports of drought-related water supply problems. The primary impacts at this point are to agriculture, with an increasing concern for wildfires. The Committee will continue to monitor the situation closely and if conditions deteriorate the DNR’s Office of State Climatology will reconvene the committee as needed.

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


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