COLUMBIA, S.C. -- It's too early to predict whether a drought declared by the South Carolina Natural Resources Department will continue through the summer, an agency climatologist says. The department has declared an incipient drought for the state, the first of four levels of drought.
``Some models have the drought continuing and some models have it ending,'' department climatologist Hope Mizzell said. Mizzell said predicting beyond the end of May is difficult.
``Right now we're dry and it's going to take a good soaking rain to alleviate the conditions and that's tough this time of year,'' she said. Mizzell said the conditions this time of year are not unusual.
State Climatologist Michael Heifert said drought conditions across the Southeast are due to cooler-than-normal sea surfaces in the equatorial Pacific.
The state Climatology Office has been monitoring conditions since the beginning of the year. Statewide average rainfall is less than 12 inches this year, 80 percent of normal. Some sites in the state have received only 65 percent of the normal rainfall, the department said.
The most significant effect so far has been increased wildfire activity in the state. The state Forestry Commission has issued a red flag fire alert for the entire state except Aiken, Allendale, and Barnwell counties.
There is concern the conditions could affect agriculture. The state Agricultural Statistics Service said soil moisture ratings are short or very short in 44 percent of the state.
Return to the U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water News Homepage