U.S. Water News Online
CHARLOTTE -- The lack of winter rain in central and western
North Carolina could become a problem if precipitation doesn't pick
up this spring, state officials say.
While eastern North Carolina dries out from last year's
hurricanes, a two-year drought is continuing elsewhere in the state.
Most streams in the mountains and western Piedmont are flowing at
less than 25 percent of normal for this time for year, according to
the state Division of Water Resources. Charlotte's 1999 rainfall
total of nearly 35 inches was about nine inches below normal.
The winter dry spell's immediate impact is minimal because few
crops are growing and residents aren't drawing down reservoirs by
washing cars or watering lawns.
But the lack of winter rain could affect farming and shrink
reservoir levels this spring if it continues. Cities, which rely on
winter rain to restock their reservoirs, are more likely to run low
during the summer without it, meaning water restrictions could
``They never have fully recovered,'' said Tony Young, chairman of
the N.C. Drought Council. ``I'm sure these folks don't want to endure
three summers of drought conditions.''
In an unusual move for this time of year, Kannapolis is pumping
nearly 9 million gallons a day from two creeks into Kannapolis Lake,
the city's water source. The city is trying to bolster lake levels
Melvin Rape, Kannapolis' public works director, hopes to avoid
water restrictions but said he couldn't rule them out.
``One significant rain could bring us right up to level in one
quick shot,'' he said. ``But when is the question. We're concerned,
but not alarmed.''
Forecasters blame La Nina, a weather pattern that cools Pacific
waters and influences much of the hemisphere, for the low mountain
stream levels and the possibility of water shortages this summer. La
Nina occurs every two to seven years and brings warmer, drier
conditions to the Southeast.
La Nina should keep consistent rainfall away from western North
Carolina until at least March, and it could lead to another summer of
water restrictions and shortened growing seasons for crops.
Eastern North Carolina communities battled the opposite problem,
thanks to hur ricanes Dennis and Floyd. Most cities in the eastern
third of the state ended the year well above normal after Dennis
dumped about 10 inches and Floyd, about 20.
the U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.