Nine WNC Counties Enter Severe Drought

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Severe drought has emerged in parts of Western North Carolina after months of record heat and below-average rainfall, according to a recently released federal drought map.

Severe drought is the second category of the four drought classifications. The four drought categories are moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional, ranging from least to most detrimental. The last time severe drought occurred in any part of the state was more than two years ago, the week of April 25, 2017.

“Another week of little to no rainfall and record high temperatures has led to worsening drought conditions,” said Klaus Albertin, chairman of the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council. “If the forecast holds, the entire state may experience drought or dry conditions by mid-October.”

Forty-eight counties are in a moderate drought, the least severe of the four drought categories. Twelve counties are experiencing abnormally dry conditions. Abnormally dry is not drought but means drought could emerge without adequate rainfall.

“September was ranked as the top five hottest on record for most areas of the state and conditions have worsened in response to this weather pattern, with streams and rivers running low, trees shedding leaves, and agricultural impacts evident,” said Rebecca Cumbie-Ward, state climatologist with the N.C. State Climate Office. “Even though the record-breaking heat is forecasted to give way to more seasonal temperatures over the weekend, our chances of seeing relief in the form of precipitation remain low.”

State officials say people should follow water restrictions enacted by their local water systems. For each system’s water conservation status, go to

Members of a state drought council conduct a conference call each week to discuss the impact of rainfall and provide recommendations for the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The U.S. Drought Monitor uses the council’s advice to generate a map depicting areas experiencing drought, abnormally dry and normal conditions. The drought map is released every Thursday and posted to the state’s official drought website at