Raleigh, N.C. — Three drought-free months for North Carolina ended with a report Thursday that moderate drought conditions have returned to seven central counties.
Those include Durham, Orange, Chatham, Lee, Alamance, Guilford and Randolph counties.
North Carolina had been drought-free since May 12. That marked the end of a two-year drought that was the state's worst since record-keeping began. It prompted local governments to limit water use and legislators to require state and local officials to form drought-response plans.
"We're certainly not out of the woods,” said Dee Freeman, secretary of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
He encouraged North Carolinians to conserve water.
“One of the best ways to reduce the effects of any drought or dry conditions is by making water conservation part of your daily routine," Freeman said.
The rest of the Triangle is among 67 counties experiencing abnormally dry conditions, which means adequate rainfall is required to keep drought conditions from returning.
Three northeastern counties saw an improvement this week, as abnormally dry conditions returned to normal. Abnormally dry conditions spread into the Charlotte area.
Twenty-six counties are experiencing normal conditions.