Gov. Easley: N.C. drought worse now than year ago

Published 2:28 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2008

N.C. Gov. Mike Easley warned last week that current drought conditions in North Carolina are worse now than this same time a year ago.&bsp; Unless there is significant rainfall the state could face a more serious situation than in 2007. The federal drought map released today shows 14 western counties in exceptional drought, twice the number from last week.&bsp; Ninety-seven of the state&squo;s 100 counties are in some level of drought.

&dquo;It is good that we started conserving a year and a half ago,&dquo; Easley said. &dquo;The drought conditions are worse now than they were last year at this same time.&dquo;

The latest federal drought map indicates there are 56 counties in the western half of the state either at exceptional, extreme or severe drought levels.&bsp; During the same week in 2007, there were 21 counties in extreme or severe drought and none in exceptional, the worst category.&bsp; This week&squo;s drought map and the map for the same week last year are included in this release.

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Rainfall in late May and through this month has been below normal which means streams and groundwater conditions are not at the rates to keep reservoirs full.&bsp; In its May North Carolina Weather Review, the National Weather Service warned that the drop in rainfall is a &dquo;red flag&dquo; for the summer season. According to the report: &dquo;If there are long periods without significant rainfall over the interior sections of the state, specifically the major metropolitan areas of Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and Raleigh-Durham, the stream flow will quickly tail off.&bsp; This would greatly limit the recharge into the reservoirs.&bsp; The cities and towns that loosened very strict water restrictions during the spring 2008 may have to think about tightening the restrictions again before July and August.&dquo;&bsp; The report is available online at:

For more information on the drought and saving water, go to and for more on the Emergency Loan Program, go to