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#07-135 May 14, 2007

Drought Response Committee upgrades state to “incipient” status

After receiving reports of dry conditions especially in regard to agriculture and forestry, state agency representatives from the Drought Response Committee voted on May 8 in Columbia to upgrade the entire state to "incipient."

For more information about drought, visit the Office of State Climatology or contact State Climatologist Hope Mizzell at (803) 734-9100 in Columbia.

Forestry and agriculture had reports of concern about conditions. According to David Tompkins with the S.C. Department of Agriculture, “I’ve talked to a lot of people around the state and no one sees adequate moisture. And I think it’s important for the public to be aware that we have dry conditions and the potential for it to get worse is there. We’ve got to get a long period of normal rainfall to get back where we need to be.” Darryl Jones with the S.C. Forestry Commission reported the state had an active month for fires in April that was still within the boundaries of normal but, “The rainfall deficit has contributed to more intense wildfire behavior and increased the difficulty of mop-up operations. The potential for significant wildfires will continue until significant rainfall occurs. Early reports indicate that the late frost, combined with low soil moisture may cause seedling survival problems, especially for pine plantations established in late winter. The continued lack of rainfall has placed stress on most forest stands, making them more susceptible to insect and disease problems.”

State Hydrologist Bud Badr reported all lake levels are normal (except Lake Murray, which is slightly below normal) and streamflow is also at normal flows for this time of the year. Groundwater levels don’t reflect drought conditions at this time. David Baize with S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported they have received no reports of any problems from water systems.

The incipient drought declaration is the first level of drought followed by moderate, severe, and extreme. “In the process of moving to incipient, the Department of Natural Resources will increase its monitoring and notify the members of the committee in two-week intervals about levels, flows, and rainfalls,” said Steve Dekozlowski of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Land, Water and Conservation Division. “If there is a trend that appears to be negative, then we would call a meeting of the committee.”  Any further upgrades of drought would require a decision of the full committee from each drought management area (Savannah, Santee, Pee Dee and Southern or ACE). All water systems and industries are encouraged to closely monitor conditions and review their local drought plans.
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