North Carolina is now drought-free, according to the latest update from the Drought Management Advisory Council, or DMAC.
For the first time since Aug. 8, 2023, there are no counties in the state listed in drought status, according to the DMAC. However, all or parts of five western counties were still listed as “abnormally dry:” Cherokee, Clay, Dare, Graham and Macon.
“The western tip keeps improving, but in eastern North Carolina, we’ve seen the Albemarle Sound slowly getting worse,” said Klaus Albertin, chair of the Drought Management Advisory Council. “The whole coastal plan has missed out on many of these big rain events, so we are keeping a close eye on that area.”
There were 24 consecutive weeks where drought was observed in the state, according to the State Climate Office. The worst impacts were felt in western North Carolina.
“We had a number of systems going into voluntary water conservation, elevated wildfire risk linked to the dry conditions, and impacts to wildlife habitat from low water levels,” Albertin said.
The El Niño pattern, which usually brings cool, wet weather, brought heavier storms from the west, but that pattern isn’t expected to stick around, Albertin said.
“We are starting to see dry conditions creep into eastern North Carolina,” Albertin said.
DMAC’s drought map is updated weekly on Thursday. The next update will be on Feb. 8.
DMAC is a collaboration of drought experts from various government agencies in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina, and organized by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources (DWR). Members of DMAC meet weekly and submit their drought condition recommendations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center for updates to the U.S. Drought Monitor (i.e., drought map), a map of the nation’s drought conditions. To view North Carolina’s drought map, visit www.ncdrought.org. To view the U.S. drought map, visit http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.