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South Carolina State Climatology Office
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The South Carolina Drought Response Program

SC Department of Natural Resources
Land, Water, and Conservation Division
State Climatology Office
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202

What is a drought management plan?

A drought management plan outlines a comprehensive program of action that enables communities to recognize and deal with drought. An effective plan should be developed before drought occurs. Planning should involve the public and appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies to insure that it is politically, economically and socially workable. An effective plan provides for monitoring water suppoies and uses; identifying alternative water sources, including arranging hookups to neighboring water supplies; developing education programs and demand reduction strategies; defining implementation and enforcement mechanisims; and outlining review and update procedures.

How can individuals reduce the impacts of drought?

Water conservation is the practice of using water resources efficiently and protecting them from pollution. Individual efforts to conserve water resources are essential. Good water conservation habits start at home:

How does drought affect individuals and homeowners?

Individuals are affected by both the rising cost of water and the increasing costs of goods and services brought on by diminishing water supplies. When a drought occurs, a limited amount of water enters a reservoir, and only a small amount can be released through the dam to generate power. This reduces the availability of low-cost hydroelectric power to consumers.

Severe droughts can mean reduced water available for home use. Using less water means people must change habits and patterns of water use, which sometimes means inconveniences. Homeowners depending on wells may find their wells going dry.

People are also affected when reduced water quality restricts use of lakes and streams for fishing, boating, and other water-related activities.

How can the effects of drought be minimized?

We cannot control drought's occurrence, location, or duration; but we can control or manage some of drought's impacts on our activities and communities. While drought cannot be forecast with any degree of accuracy, communities can anticipate the potential for drought and can develop plans to minimize its effects.

What is a drought?

Drought is a period of time with less-than-normal rainfall. No region, including South Carolina, is immune to the possibility of drought.

Droughts are naturally occurring events. It is often difficult to determine when a drought has begun or ended. The seriousness of a drought depends upon geographic location, weather patterns, soils, water use patterns, and overall water quantity. The greater the demands placed on an area's water resources, the more serious the drought. Recovery from drought may take months or sometimes years of above average precipitation.

There are different kinds of drought. A meteorological drought occurs when precipitation consistently falls short of average levels for periods of months or years. A hydrological drought occurs when the amount of water needed by crops for growth exceeds the amount available in the soil.

How much rain falls in South Carolina?

South Carolina has a warm, moderate climate with hot, humid summers. Rainfall records kept since 1895 show the statewide average annual rainfall is near 48 inches although it has ranged from 32 to 70 inches. Generally, the highest annual rainfall occurs in the northwestern portion of the state with winter and early spring months being the wettest and late summer and fall months being the driest.

Every decade since 1900 has had three or more years of below normal rainfall. The driest decade was the 1930s followed by the 1910s and 1950s. The driest year was 1954 with a statewide average annual rainfall of 32.06 inches followed by 2001 with 34.88 inches.

Repair all leaky faucets and be sure they are turned off tightly when not in use. Don't forget outside faucets!

Install water-saving devices in the home such as: flow-reducing faucet heads, faucet aerators, toilet dams, and pressure regulator valves.

Take short showers and do not overfill bathtubs.

Turn water off and on as needed when shaving, brushing teeth, or hand washing clothes and dishes.

Flush toilets less often.

Wash only full loads of clothes and dishes.

Water gardens and lawns only as necessary between 7:00 am and 10:00 am to prevent evaporation.

Keep cold drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running cold water from the tap.

Wash cars only when necessary, and preferably at a commercial car wash with recirculating facilities.

How can individuals learn more about water resources and drought management planning?

Many different organizations distribute information on water resources, conservation, and drought management. Check with local utility companies, agricultural extension services, State and local offices of public health and the environment, local water control boards, city planning offices, local libraries, environmental groups, and Federal agencies. Citizens can obtain more information by contacting the Drought Information Center at the S.C. Department of Natural Resources at (803) 734-9100.


Water can develop unpleasant tastes or smells. In some cases, public health may be threatened by contamination of water supplies with waste products or high concentrations of bacteria and other organisms. Costs to obtain, treat, and deliver water to consumers may increase. Communities may even be forced to order reductions in water use by area consumers.

How does drought affect agriculture, business, and industry?

Agriculture is the first to suffer when a drought occurs. Dry weather, especially during critical periods in crop growth, lowers yield. Consumers are affected when lower crop yields force prices to rise.

Persistent drought can affect all business and industry. Conditions may result in scaled back operations and even plant closings. Reduced water quality may also affect operations by requiring additional water treatment. As water costs increase, the expense is passsed along to consumers for goods and services.

When water levels fall, tourism and recreation-related businesses suffer. Businesses such as marinas, fishing and boating supply outlets, and lodging facilities may experience a slow-down.

Who identifies a drought?

When less rain falls than usual, there is less water to maintain normal soil moisture, stream flows, and reservoir levels, and to recharge ground water. Falling levels of surface water create unattractive areas of exposed shoreline and reduce the capacity of surface waters to dilute and carry municipal and industrial waste water. Water quality often decreases as water quantity decreases. Reduced water quality can adversely affect fish and wildlife habitats. In addition, dry conditions make trees more prone to insect damage and disease and increase the potential for grass and forest fires. The longer drought conditions persist, the more severe the effects on the environment.

How does drought affect communities?

People are affected both directly and indirectly by reductions in the quantity and/or quality of water resources. Drought may affect the ability of a community to supply safe, clean, ample water to its residents, institutions, commercial businesses, and industries.

For More Information Contact:

S.C. Department of Natural Resources
Land, Water & Conservation Division
State Climate Office
1000 Assembly Street
P.O Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202


SC DNR ReGions


Region 1 - Piedmont - Clemson
311 Natural Resources Driver
Clemson, SC 29631
(8864) 654-1671

Region 2 - Catawba - Pee Dee - Florence
295 South Evander Drive
Florence, SC 29506
(843) 661-4766

Region 3 - Central - Columbia
1000 Assembly Street
P.O Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
(803) 734-9100

Region 4 - Coastal - Charleston
217 Ft. Johnson Road
P.O Box 12559
Charleston, SC 29422
(843) 843-953-9334

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