Polk drops another level on drought scale as dry ’08 ends

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Following a November that was one of the driest on record the area received more normal rainfall in December. Observations for the National Weather Service in Tryon recorded measurable rainfall on 16 of the 31 days in December.

The area finished with more than 4.5 inches of rain for the month and ended the year with a precipitation deficit of nearly 19 inches.

While that&squo;s one of the driest years in the past decade, which has included several drought years, it&squo;s a slight improvement from last year which ended with a deficit of nearly 23 inches.

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The past year had a promising start with near normal rainfall in each of the first four months of 2008. But conditions deteriorated quickly after the area received minimal rainfall from May through July. June was the driest in the past 10 years with just 1.35 inches of rain.

Thanks to Tropical Storm Fay, the area received above average rainfall in August, but the relief did not last long. Dry weather returned in the fall and November was the driest in the past 10 years with just 1.5 inches of rain.

According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, the relief seen in December may carry over into the new year. The Outlook is calling for improvement in drought conditions in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina from January through March.

Although all of the Western North Carolina counties that were at &dquo;extreme&dquo; drought were lowered in December to &dquo;severe,&dquo; several Upstate South Carolina counties remain at the &dquo;extreme&dquo; drought level.