Local News

Much Of N.C. Remains Dangerously Dry Despite Weekend Rain

Posted March 12, 2002

— Drier-than-usual conditions now could mean trouble in the spring and summer if more rain does not fall across North Carolina. State engineers are worried about the summer water supply. For forestry officials, the immediate concern is fires.

A forest fire in Johnston County last week was just one of 120 that have popped up across the state in recent weeks. The North Carolina Forestry Service said that the spring fire season is not supposed to start until mid-March. Thanks to extremely dry conditions, it is here early.

"It's unusual to see this much of the state covered, this dry, this time of year. This should be our wet season," said Tom Fransen of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Fransen said that most of the state is experiencing a moderate or severe drought, which is bad news for the cities and counties in the state that depend on rain for their water supply.

"If we don't get adequate rainfall, that means the water supply reservoirs won't be full going into summer, which would mean systems would have to be doing conservation levels and mandatory conservations earlier in the year than they would typically do," Fransen said.

Durham and Hillsborough had to restrict water use over the past few months. Both cities restricted car washing and lawn watering. Hillsborough even told restaurants not to serve water unless customers asked for it.

State engineers said that it is up to everyone to prepare now for the worst.

"Everyone needs to be aware that we are in an unusual situation. We are asking people to conserve water," Fransen said.

The state's Division of Water Resources task force said that the amount of rain received in the next two months is critical. The immediate forecast does not call for any rain.

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