Abnormally dry conditions have spread into more sections of the High Country this week, while parts of five counties in the southwestern part of the state are under severe status.
Portions of Macon, Transylvania, Jackson and Haywood counties were upgraded from moderate drought to severe drought due to lack of adequate rainfall, according to the most recent federal drought map, which is updated every Thursday. Severe drought is the second highest of the four drought categories.
“The counties in the southwestern mountain area of the state have been experiencing dry conditions for several months due to lower than normal precipitation, which impacts soil moisture levels, stream flows and groundwater levels,” said Rebecca Ward, extension climatologist with the State Climate Office of North Carolina. “If these dry conditions continue, this area may see additional impacts that could affect agriculture.”
22 counties are experiencing abnormally dry conditions, that is up from 10 last Thursday. Portions of Ashe and Wilkes join all of Watauga and Avery as abnormally dry.
Drought categories are based on streamflow, groundwater levels, the amount of water stored in reservoirs, soil moisture, the time of year and other relevant factors for assessing the extent and severity of dry conditions.