Abnormally dry conditions continued for the High Country after the first 31 days of the New Year. Ashe, Avery and Watauga have improved from moderate drought to abnormally dry status since December 31, 2016.
20 counties are in the abnormally dry status as of the January 31 report from the North Carolina Drought Council. 11 in moderate drought, 4 in severe drought, 0 in extreme drought and exceptional drought.
For the contiguous 48 states, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed 14.55 percent of the area in moderate drought or worse, compared with 16.12 percent a week earlier.
Drought now affects 88,997,879 people, compared with 91,391,891 a week earlier.
For all 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed 12.16 percent of the area in moderate drought or worse, compared with 13.47 percent a week earlier.
Drought now affects 89,007,156 people, compared with 91,401,168 a week earlier.
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.
Drought map January 31, 2016 from the North Carolina Drought Management Council and USDA