North Carolina’s Drought Management Advisory Council (DMAC) has identified nine counties in the Extreme Drought category (D3 category), for the first time since 2017, as part of expanding drought conditions across the state.
Extreme Drought is impacting portions of Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Henderson, Macon, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties in the state’s southwestern and southern edges. Under Extreme Drought, all water users are advised to follow their Water Shortage Response Plans, adhering to guidelines established during the 2007 drought. Users are also required to report weekly water usage.
The North Carolina Forest Service has issued a burn ban for 30 western North Carolina counties due to increased fire risk from dry conditions. Water usage restrictions are determined on the water system level by the managing utility.
The National Weather Service is predicting wetter-than-average winter weather, but the shift is unlikely to occur for several weeks, said Klaus Albertin, chair of the DMAC.
“The mid- to long-term forecast is still for a wet winter due to the El Niño pattern,” Albertin said. “Conditions are likely to continue to degrade into early December, however, since we haven’t seen a shift in the weather pattern yet.”
Until further notice, DMAC strongly urges local government implementation of drought response actions - in addition to previous advisories - for all water users located in or dependent on water resources from the areas of the state in Severe Drought conditions. Recommendations include examining water delivery systems to minimize loss and maximize efficiency, eliminating non-essential water use and evaluating options for reuse, reclamation and/or recycling into daily operations.
In addition to the nine counties in Extreme Drought, portions of 30 counties are in the Severe Drought category (D2 classification) as of Nov. 14. Forty counties are undergoing Moderate Drought (D1 classification). Portions of 99 counties – all except Pamlico – are experiencing abnormally dry conditions or higher in DMAC’s classifications.
DMAC’s drought map is updated weekly on Thursdays. The next map update will be on Nov. 22.
To learn more, visit https://www.ncdrought.org/education.