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Summer is off to a dry start in North Carolina

A map of North Carolina shows drought conditions on July 5, 2022.
North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council
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The North Carolina Drought Advisory issued by the Drought Management Advisory Council has been updated to reflect drought conditions on July 5, 2022 indicated on the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor of North Carolina.

For the second week in a row, almost all of North Carolina is in a drought.

Much of the western part of the state is “abnormally dry,” the lowest level of drought, according to the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council.

A large swath of the Piedmont and the Charlotte metro area is in “moderate drought.” “Severe drought” persists in several inland eastern counties.

It’s been a while since the state has had a drought like this one, according to Corey Davis, assistant climatologist at the North Carolina State Climate Office.

"For the Raleigh area for instance, we're almost three inches below our normal precipitation since the start of June. That's the driest we've started a summer since 1999," Davis said.

The drought is especially tough for farmers in eastern North Carolina. Davis said some corn growers may lose their entire crop this year.

Rivers and lakes are also seeing the impact.

"The Haw River out near Burlington is now below the historical 10th percentile,” Davis said. “So that is very dry for this time of the year. Some of the major lakes and reservoirs are also seeing their levels drop. The operators are running very conservatively. So they're not releasing a whole lot of water downstream.”

Davis adds that it's too soon to tell if the drought will continue through the fall, but tropical moisture may bring some relief.

“What happens later this summer and over the fall, especially with tropical systems coming through, that could really be make or break for the current drought event,” he said. “If we get a decent amount of moisture from some of these storms, then that may lift us out of the drought.”

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.
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