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Drought status for South Carolina

SC Drought Committee upgrades drought status for 28 counties

The S.C. Drought Response Committee, meeting via conference call on June 19, upgraded the drought status to the first level of drought, incipient, for 28 counties.

The counties include Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Bamberg, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Orangeburg, Sumter, Williamsburg and York.

There was support from multiple indicators such as the 30-Day Percent of Normal Rainfall, 60-Day Percent of Normal Rainfall, the US Drought Monitor and the Crop Moisture Index to upgrade the 28-counties to the first level of drought. The table below provides selected rainfall totals from across the state for the past 30-days. The locations with rainfall above 4” are generally in the areas with no drought.

According to reports from the Pee Dee, there are some areas that haven’t received any rain in three to four weeks. Corn in those areas has been continuously stressed under the recent scorching heat. Even though a few areas are receiving scattered storms, the coverage is limited. Very few pockets have received any significant rainfall.

Brad Boozer, from the SC Department of Agriculture, stated, “Several areas across the state are very dry at the present time and most farmers are waiting on some moisture to start planting soybeans. The dry weather has taken a toll on dryland corn and some beef cattle farmers have started to feed hay throughout several areas.  Extreme temperatures this past week have not helped the crop outlook.”

According to Dr. Hope Mizzell, SC State Climatologist, “The temperature at many locations climbed above 100 F for several consecutive days which significantly increased evaporation rates and escalated the drying conditions. Four locations, Cades, Bishopville, Hartsville, and Bamberg reached 104 F. Not much relief from the heat is expected with above normal temperatures forecasted through the end of June.”

As for the Upstate, “We seem to be on the storm track here in the upper Savannah basin. We are getting rain about every other day, enough to keep us from showing any signs of drought at this point,” said committee member and Pickens County resident Dennis Chastain. “We’ll have to monitor the situation closely though, because this time of year things can turn around on a dime.”

The Committee will continue to monitor the situation since some counties only need a few rainfall events to move out of drought, while without rain, some counties can quickly slip into drought. The incipient drought declaration is followed by increasing levels of severity to moderate, severe and extreme status.

Contact Dr. Mizzell in Columbia at (803) 734-9568 or e-mail at mizzellh@dnr.sc.gov for more information