Polk drops one level on drought scale

Published 2:58 pm Monday, December 22, 2008

A wet first half of December has brought relief to counties that were experiencing the worst level of drought across Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina.

Polk and other counties in the region were lowered by the federal drought monitor this week to &dquo;extreme&dquo; drought status, the second highest level of drought. Polk, Spartanburg and other counties had been at the &dquo;exceptional&dquo; drought level.

Polk is now one of 11 counties in North Carolina at extreme drought, while three counties are at severe, nine at moderate and 19 are abnormally dry. The remaining 48 counties are not experiencing drought conditions.

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Polk entered December with a year-to-date precipitation deficit of more than 18 inches, according to National Weather Service observations in Tryon. The area was approaching last year&squo;s deficit of nearly 23 inches until the first couple weeks of December brought much more precipitation.

The area has received rainfall on nine of the first 17 days of the month. More than three inches of rain fell between Wednesday and Thursday last week, and the area has received nearly an inch this week.