Drought conditions return to N.C.

Posted July 8, 2010 11:16 a.m. EDT
Updated July 8, 2010 11:21 a.m. EDT

— Drought conditions that have returned to North Carolina for the first time since last summer are hurting crops, according to a weekly update from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

A moderate drought has taken hold in 18 counties, including Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Nash, Northampton, Vance and Warren counties.

Some western counties in the mountains are also in a moderate drought, which is the least severe of four categories rating the intensity of a drought.

Environmental officials said the worsening conditions are driven by a lack of rainfall that has hurt crops and affected farmers.

"Agricultural reports indicate that a lack of rainfall and higher sustained temperatures are beginning to impact croplands in North Carolina," Candice Craig, statistician for National Agricultural Statistics Service, said in a statement. "Pastures and hay fields have been depleted of soil moisture. Corn conditions are deteriorating, and some corn crops are showing drought stress."

Sixty-two counties are experiencing abnormally dry conditions, which means drought conditions are not present but could return without sufficient rainfall. That number is up 11 counties from a week ago.

It's the first time any part of North Carolina has experienced drought conditions since last August. In 2007-08, North Carolina experienced the worst drought since 1895, when records on the subject began to be kept.