Polk County classified under D1 drought

Published 8:45 am Monday, August 15, 2011

The area has been classified as under a drought after receiving just over an inch of rain in the month of July. There was no water running over the dam of Lake Lanier, which is Tryon’s drinking water source last week. (photo by Leah Justice)

Tryon records just 1.12 inches in July

With just 1.12 inches of rain in July and the months of May and June being below the five, seven and 10 year averages, Polk County is now classified as in a drought.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor of North Carolina, issued by the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council weekly, Polk County is currently classified as being under D1 drought conditions, which is one step more severe than the “abnormally dry” category.

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Rain totals are recorded daily at the Tryon Water Plant for the National Weather Service. The water plant recorded just 1.12 inches in the month of July, 3.89 inches in June and 3.41 inches in May.

The five-year average for the month of July is 6.55 inches, putting last month 5.43 inches below the five-year average. The seven-year average for the month of July is 5.52 inches and the 10-year average for July is 4.26 inches.

July was extraordinarily dry, with only rain falling 11 days of the month with mostly insignificant amounts. The most recorded in a day for the month was on July 16th at 0.68 inches, according to Town of Tryon records. July 16 was also the coolest day of the month, with a high temperature of just 65 degrees. July 31 was the hottest day of the month, with a high of 99 degrees and one of the many days with no rain.

The months of January and February also saw lower than average rainfalls this year, at 2.29 inches and 2.60 inches respectively. The months of March and April are the only months that saw higher than average rainfalls, with March recording the most rain of the year at 11.35 inches. April recorded 5.10 inches of rain.

Polk’s D1 classification is three steps down from the most severe drought, classified as D4. The drought monitor includes classifications for D0, “abnormally dry,” D1, “moderate drought,” D2, “severe drought,” D3, “extreme drought,” and D4, “exceptional drought.”

At D1, the drought monitor asks residents to:

– adhere to local water use restrictions
– participate, as appropriate, in regional and local coordination for the management of water resources
–  stay informed on drought conditions and advisories (www.ncdrought.org)
–  project water needs and available water supply for a 90-day period from the issuance of the advisory
–  Assess your vulnerability to the drought conditions and adjust water usage to prolong available supply.
–  Inspect water delivery system components (e.g. irrigation lines, fixtures, processing equipment, water system lines, etc.), repair leaks and ensure that existing equipment is operating as efficiently as possible.
–  Minimize nonessential uses of water
–  Implement available public awareness and educational outreach programs emphasizing the need to conserve water.

Polk is one of 26 counties currently classified as being under moderate drought (D1) conditions. Nearby counties in D1 include Rutherford and Cleveland Counties.

There are only a few counties in North Carolina currently who are not under any classifications of abnormally dry or drought. Several counties on the coast are currently under extreme drought advisories.

Polk has suffered several droughts since 1999, with the year 2000 recording only 44.32 inches of precipitation for the year. The area’s dry streak was broken after several years in 2009, when Tryon recorded over 75 inches of precipitation for the year, which was nearly 30 inches more recorded in 2008. The 2009 total was the most recorded since 2003 when Tryon received 83 inches of precipitation for the year. The 2010 total precipitation recorded by Tryon was 53.73 inches.