State officially drought-free for first time in three years

jholleman@thestate.comApril 24, 2013 

A parched zucchini bed in Gilbert in 2011. For the first time in three years, all of South Carolina is considered drought-free.

TRACY GLANTZ

For the first time in more than three years, none of South Carolina is officially considered in drought conditions.

The S.C. Drought Response Committee voted Wednesday to remove drought designations for the entire state because of above normal rainfall for the past five months and the potential for at least average rainfall in the coming months.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the whole state in no drought,” said state climatologist Hope Mizzell. “That’s a good thing.”

The last time the state officially was drought-free was December 2009. The improvements began with heavy rains in some parts of the state last fall, and most of the state was upgraded to either moderate or incipient drought in January.

Rainfall from December through April was above normal in most of the mountain region, which had been remarkably dry the previous three years. In some pockets, more than double the normal rainfall fell in that period. Along the coast, Charleston has had one of its wettest winters and early springs ever, Mizzell said.

The Savannah River Lakes remain below normal, especially Jocassee (17 feet below on April 23), Hartwell (2.5 below) and Thurmond (5.42 below). But an inch to two inches of rain is expected in the next 14 days in those areas.

Mizzell noted at the January committee meeting that simply normal — not necessarily extraordinary — winter rains came lift the state out of drought. The better news is long-range forecasts call for slightly below normal rainfall through June and slightly above normal rainfall for July through September.

 

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