Local News

Rains Quench Thirst for Drought Relief – for Now

Posted March 13, 2008 11:58 a.m. EDT
Updated March 13, 2008 2:37 p.m. EDT

— Heavy rains, which poured as much as 3 inches on the Triangle last week and provided needed precipitation across the state, helped ease North Carolina's drought situation, state officials said Thursday.

The weekly report issued by the state Drought Management Advisory Council shows exceptional drought conditions – the worst of five categories – aren't seen anywhere in North Carolina. Last week, 39 of the state's 100 counties were experiencing exceptional drought.

Forty-five counties, including all of the Triangle, are now in extreme drought. Another 37 counties, including Cumberland, Wilson and Wayne, are in severe drought, and 15 are in moderate drought, according to Thursday's report. Carteret, Dare and New Hanover counties are no longer considered to be in a drought and are listed in the report as experiencing only what the categories term "abnormally dry" conditions.

The report marked the first time since Aug. 14 that no North Carolina county was in exceptional drought. WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said such conditions can easily reappear if the state doesn't continue to receive regular rains, however.

"If we don't continue to see the kinds of rain that we saw last week ... then it's likely we're going to get right back into exceptional drought in our area," Gardner said.

Gov. Mike Easley restated his call for continued water conservation statewide.

“We had some good rain the last few weeks, but that does not mean that we now have plenty of water,” Easley said in a statement. “The rain helps, but spring is coming, which means water use goes up and evaporation loss increases. We are still looking at some tough months as we go forward, so people need to continue to conserve.”

On Tuesday, Easley announced a three-part legislative package to modernize the state’s 600-plus public water systems, mandate water conservation and efficiency and upgrade the state's ability to respond to water emergencies.