Polk slips back into moderate drought

Published 10:13 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2012

After spending the month of October completely out of abnormally dry or drought conditions, Polk County is back in a moderate drought, according to the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council.

The small amount of rain that fell Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 was the first for the area in weeks. Tryon received 0.02 inches of rain on Dec. 10 and 0.16 inches of rain Dec. 11, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Polk County Extension director John Vining said although November is typically the area’s driest month, he said the last few months have been “bone dry.”

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“But this is also one of those fake years, because of cloudy weather, where you’d think we’ve had a lot of rain,” Vining said.

The months of November and December fell short of normal averages, with the area only receiving 0.56 inches of rain in November and only 0.19 inches so far in December.

Normal rainfall (based on averages from 1981 through 2010), for November is 4.8 inches and 5.24 inches for December.

“We don’t do a lot of fall crop so that’s why we haven’t heard much from gardeners or farmers worried about the drought,” Vining said. “But there are probably some farmers right now trying to reseed their pastures and without moisture they could lose all of that work.”

Besides the month of October, in which the area received a total of 4.7 inches of rain, the area has been in either a moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions since June.

According to the drought monitor, Polk County was abnormally dry from Jan. 3 through April 3 and moved into a moderate drought on April 10 until May 8.

Beginning on May 15, Polk County was classified as in no drought conditions and continued the no drought status through June 19.

At the end of June, Polk County was either in abnormally dry conditions or a moderate drought through the end of September.

Rainfall has been abnormally low all year except for the months of May, July and October.

May and July saw significantly higher than normal rainfall, with the area receiving a total of 9.5 inches of rain in May and 7.9 inches in July.

October was also slightly above average with the area receiving 4.7 inches compared to the average of 4.65 inches.

There have been several months this year of significantly lower than average rainfalls, including the months of February, June and November. The area received 1.31 inches of rain in February compared to the average of 4.86 inches; 2.5 inches in June compared to the average of 5.38 inches and 0.56 inches in November compared to the average of 4.8 inches. (see chart for comparison of monthly rainfall compared to averages).

The area has also seen less precipitation this year overall than last. So far for 2012, the area has received 48.75 inches of rain compared to 56.82 inches in 2011.
The average annual rainfall from 1981 through 2010 was 61.68 inches, according to NWS data.