Weekend rains end drought for parts of region

Posted May 1, 2008 10:56 a.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2008 12:55 p.m. EDT

— Heavy rains last weekend have pulled eastern North Carolina, including parts of the Triangle, out of drought for the first time in more than 10 months, according to a state report issued Thursday.

Thirty-five of North Carolina's 100 counties, including Cumberland, Johnston, Nash, Wilson, Franklin and Vance counties, were listed as being "abnormally dry" in the latest report issued by the state Drought Management Advisory Council.

Wake, Durham and Orange counties were among 21 counties experiencing moderate drought conditions. Twenty-six counties stretching from the Triad through Charlotte and to the western North Carolina mountains were listed as being in severe drought, and a dozen counties west of Charlotte remained in extreme drought.

A slow-moving system that dumped up to 3 inches of rain and spawned some flash floods Sunday helped alleviate the drought conditions across the region.

Almost 4 inches of rain were reported at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in April, which is 1.12 inches above normal, WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. For the year, 13.87 inches of rain has been recorded at RDU, which is 0.45 inches below normal, she said.

"Everything continues to inch westward," Gardner of the lessening in drought conditions. "Hopefully, as we continue to see a wetter pattern, we'll continue to eat away at the drought."

The region has another chance of rain on Sunday, when a front crosses North Carolina, bringing the possibility of showers and thunderstorms, she said.

The last time much of the Triangle wasn't experiencing drought conditions was last June. A hot, dry summer accelerated drought conditions statewide, and much of North Carolina remained in an "exceptional drought," the worst of five categories tracked by the state until early this year.