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Worst-on-record drought intensifies

North Carolina, USA
Image: Charlotte NC, October 2007
The state is in the grip of the WORST DROUGHT EVER RECORDED, going back to 1895 when drought conditions were first calculated. Conditions are not likely to improve soon. To ameliorate the drought, the state needs 14 to 18 inches of rain over the next three months and 25 to 30 inches over the next six months, the National Weather Service said. The probability of that happening? Less than 15 percent. To completely end the drought this winter, the state needs as much as 24 inches of rain over the next three months. The chances of that occurring are less than 4 percent. Central North Carolina got 2 to 5 inches of rain from October storms, but as of last week, stream flows across the state had dropped significantly. Most are less than 25 percent of their normal levels. The October rain did not compensate for months of dry weather and long-term water shortages. Falls Lake, which supplies drinking water to Raleigh and most of Wake County, is more than 8 feet below normal, and only 36 percent of the lake's water supply remains. Falls Lake does not go dry when its water supply is depleted; the lake will still be 36 feet deep, but the water will be thick with sediment and require additional treatment. Since July, precipitation has averaged less than 50 percent of normal over much of the state. By mid-October, nearly 90 percent of the state was experiencing extreme to exceptional drought conditions. If climate predictions come true, they will face ongoing water shortages in the spring and summer.
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