The S.C. Drought Response Committee met Monday via conference call to update the drought statuses of all counties in South Carolina.
While no major drought impacts were reported, some members of the committee expressed concern about the potential for dry conditions due to La Nina. Winter rainfall is depended upon for groundwater and surface water recharging.
“The drought statuses for 15 counties were upgraded since rainfall in those areas has generally been less than four inches in the last 60 days,” SCDNR State Climatologist Hope Mizzell said. “The counties upgraded to incipient include Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Chesterfield, Colleton, Dillon, Dorchester, Hampton, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, Richland, and York. Incipient status is considered a ‘drought watch’ phase.”
And while wildfire occurrence has been low so far this month, fuels that grew over the growing season are rapidly curing.
“If dry conditions continue, we expect to see a rise in the number of wildfires, especially on days when high winds coincide with low relative humidity,” S.C. Forestry Commission Forest Protection Chief Darryl Jones added. “A developing drought could also result in poor seedling survival as we enter tree planting season.”
Some parts of the state, however, have received above-normal rainfall and were downgraded to more positive drought statuses.
“Above-normal rainfalls in the upper Savannah Basin over the past several months have improved streamflow conditions in Oconee and Anderson counties,” SCDNR Senior Hydrologist Scott Harder stated. “The improved streamflow conditions supported the removal of an incipient drought status for these two counties. In the Pee Dee Basin, below-normal streamflow levels supported the upgrade in drought status to incipient for the counties of Chesterfield, Darlington, Marlboro, Dillon and Marion.”
The committee will continue to monitor the weather and will meet again as needed.