State forecasters will decide sometime this week whether or not to declare the area in an “incipient drought,” according to Hope Mizzell, state climatologist.
The month of August was dryer than normal, leaving the Upstate about 6 inches behind on rainfall, according to Dennis Chastain, who represents Pickens County on the state Drought Response Committee.
“It’s been a touch and go situation,” he said.
When drought conditions from last year lifted, Chastain said predictors had hoped normal rainfall would continued for the next one or two years, but an El Nino formed off the coast of California, dampening those hopes.
Last year’s drought was sparked by a La Lina, and Chastain said it was unusual for an El Nino, which is a large body of warm water, to form just after a La Nina.
He said the result means more rain for the northern tear states but that it almost always means drought in the Southeast.
“The National Climatology Center is saying it’s here to stay through the fall and winter,” Chastain said. “And if that happens, my recommendation will be to start water conservation efforts by late winter or early spring.”
Chastain said that in the past, such action has not been taken until the region was in the height of a drought.
“We need to start earlier with evasive action,” he said.
Such actions would need to include water customers conserving water as well as Duke Energy and the U.S. Corp of Engineers holding back water in their reservoirs earlier.
Mizzell said the Upstate would need at least an inch of rain over the next several days to avoid going into the first level of drought, and according to Chastain an incipient drought does not require action.
“It’s just a heads up,” he said.