Published: 2008-05-03 12:34:38
Updated: 2008-05-03 12:34:38
Posted May 3, 2008
MIKE MOSS SAYS: Cathy, Whether we're in a surplus depends on the time frame you count a rainfall anomaly against. Over the past year, for example, we are about 5.76 inches below normal at the RDU airport, but have done better with rain in recent months so that over the past 90 days, we're almost 1.4 inches above normal. The increase in rainfall amonts and coverage since the beginning of the year have aided greatly with the drought situation, resulting in area lakes and reservoirs that are now at or above target levels, streamflows that are within the normal range, at least over central and eastern NC (streamflows remain very low, in some cases the lowest on record, for the western third or so of the state). Likewise, some groundwater monitoring wells have shown a return to normal levels, mainly over the eastern half of the state, while some recovery is evident over central NC (but with wells still on the low side of normal) and groundwater remaining quite low in parts of the west.
Given all these factors, the national group that assesses drought has dropped the "drought" conditions down to an "abnormally dry" designation for most of eastern NC, with a group of counties in the vicinity of the Pamlico sound shown as having near normal moisture characteristics. A narrow area just west of the coastal plain, including southwestern Wake County, is still shown as in moderate drought, while significant portions of western NC remain in severe to extreme drought, part of a very dry band that extends across upstate SC, northern GA and into AL. See the attached map for the most recent assessment of our state. For a National overview, go to
Also, to check RDU rainfall against normal across a range of time spans, see the graphs in our almanac section at