Recent Rains Don't Dampen Drought

Posted September 20, 2007 12:25 p.m. EDT
Updated September 20, 2007 5:38 p.m. EDT

— Recent rain has provided little relief from the drought that has gripped the state in recent months, officials said in a report released Thursday morning.

The North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council said 98 of the state's 100 counties remain in severe, extreme or exceptional drought conditions. Carteret and Pamlico counties continue to experience moderate drought conditions.

The only change from last week was in Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties in the western part of the state, which moved from exceptional drought conditions to extreme drought, according to the latest report.

Central North Carolina remains under extreme drought, despite a storm system that dropped up to 5 inches of rain and spawned tornadoes last Friday.

A system of warm tropical air off the coast was rising up over cool dry air inland, bringing some rainfall Thursday afternoon. It was moving westward early Thursday evening, bringing a trace of rain at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, as of 5 p.m., WRAL Meterologist Greg Fishel said. Some areas down east received anywhere from .25 to .5 inches.

Much of the region has received a trace of precipitation this week, and Fishel said chances were good that the eastern third of the state would see a little more later Thursday and Friday.

Gov. Mike Easley continued to call for water systems to impose consumption limits to conserve dwindling supplies of drinking water.

“The rain last week certainly helped, but forecasters say we need several months of normal to above-normal rainfall before we see any improvement in the drought,” Easley said in a statement. “We must do all we can to save water now so we do not face even more severe shortages this fall and winter."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last Friday declared 85 North Carolina counties as disaster areas, making farmers there and in 11 neighboring counties eligible for low-interest loans to help them recover from their crop losses.