Polk County now listed in an extreme drought

Published 10:00 pm Monday, November 7, 2016

Polk County is currently in an extreme drought, according to the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council.

Polk joins the other western North Carolina counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Henderson, Macon, Swain and Transylvania as in an extreme drought as of last Tuesday, Nov. 1.

The highest classification of drought is exceptional, which no county in North Carolina has reached yet during this dry season.

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There is zero percent rain forecast through Sunday, Nov. 13 and only 10-20 percent chances of rain through Saturday, Nov. 19, according to weather.com.

The Tryon area received 0.86 inches of rain during the month of October this year, 0.13 inches during the month of September and no rain so far in November, according to the National Weather Service’s (NWS) latest data. Most of the foothills area is currently more than 10 inches below normal precipitation for the year.

Polk County was listed as in a severe drought on Oct. 18 this year and has spent most of the summer as either in a moderate drought or listed as abnormally dry.

Polk County normally receives 61.77 inches of precipitation in a year and has only received 35.3 inches so far this year, according to the NWS.

By the end of October, Polk County normally sees 51.73 inches of rain for the year.

Normals for Polk County are taken from the years 1981-2010 by the NWS. Precipitation is measured at the Tryon Water Department and turned into the NWS on a daily basis.

Other months this year that have received below normal precipitation include the months of January, March, April, June and July. August was the only month this year that received well above normal rainfall, with 8.72 inches of rain, according to the NWS.

Tryon as well as other water suppliers has a drought management plan that includes voluntary and mandatory water restrictions for customers at certain stages and depending on how the water is flowing over the Lake Lanier Dam, the town’s main water source.

Tryon Town Manager Zach Ollis said the town is monitoring the current drought and a couple of weeks ago asked water customers to voluntarily conserve water. As of Sunday, Nov. 6, none of the area water suppliers had declared any mandatory restrictions for water use.