Drought conditions in NC show no sign of slowing

A drought across North Carolina is showing no signs of slowing down as we head into the winter months.

Posted Updated
Drought status this week
Mike Maze
, WRAL meteorologist

A drought across North Carolina is showing no signs of slowing down as we head into the winter months.

Here’s a look at this weeks drought status, which shows moderate drought in tan spreading into our southern counties, including the Fayetteville area and Clinton. The abnormally dry conditions in yellow are spreading too.

You can't help but notice a lack of dry conditions in parts of the Triangle. This region had above normal rainfall for the month of October, with RDU seeing 7.53 inches rain. At the moment we are okay, but this is likely to change.

Drought status this week

Parts of our state, especially in eastern North Carolina, have seen below-normal rainfall rates each month since July. This lack of rainfall is adding up and helping the drought to spread.

Over the past 30 days, some of the locations that have moved into the moderate drought this week have seen 20% to 30% of their normal rainfall.

Percent of normal rainfall

For November, which is typically a drier month for North Carolina, we are running well behind where we should for rainfall. RDU has only seen 0.09 inches of rain for the month, and Fayetteville is only faring slightly better, with 0.10 inches.

We have minimal rain chances over the next seven days, so I really don’t see anything that is going to keep us from having another dry month for eastern North Carolina.

November rainfall so far

Will the drought continue to spread across the state as we head into the winter? The short answer is yes!

Unfortunately, we have a La Niña weather pattern that has evolved and will likely last into the winter months. Typically in a La Niña setup the Southeast, including North Carolina, sees reduced rainfall and above-normal average temperatures.

The Climate Prediction Center issues a Seasonal Drought Outlook, and the recent update shows drought is likely to persist through February.

I don’t like seeing this since winter affords wetter weather, which recharges our reservoirs and ground water. If we end up with a dry winter and drought conditions carry on, it is likely drought will stay with us into the spring and maybe even into next summer.

In a pattern like this, it is typically a tropical system that ends the dry conditions, and we know what that means. I wish I had a crystal ball to see how the next 3 to 6 months will play out. Time will tell.


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