The weekly Drought Monitor was released on Thursday morning, and as might be expected, it’s not pretty. While South Carolina has fared the best, “best” here still being not good, North Carolina and Virginia are seeing significantly worsening drought-like conditions.
NC State Climatologist, Dr. Ryan Boyles:
“Well, the Mid-Atlantic States have just been smothered by this high pressure, and it’s been bringing triple-digit temperatures into the Carolina’s into Virginia, even up the eastern seaboard to New York City. It’s just been sweltering and oppressive. Hopefully it will change and go back to a more normal summertime pattern here in the next few days. It’s certainly set and broken quite a few records.”
Under these weather conditions, it’s no surprise that crops are starting to suffer, especially corn and pasture:
“Well, in particular in the southeastern part of the state and mostly in the central and northern Coastal Plain, we’ve been hearing reports of corn fields that are really in a lot of stress. In fact, the term that Department of Agriculture used was ‘crispy’ from some of the weekly reports that they do.
Similarly we’re hearing reports from the western NC where it’s been very dry and relatively warm. They’re having problems with the pastures where they’re not expecting to get any more cuttings, or in some cases pastures are going dormant and they’re having to turn to hay for their animals. We’re definitely moving beyond dry weather now, we’re starting to see impact, that’s why we think there’s good justification for the Drought designation for both western and eastern North Carolina.”
According to Boyles, we can’t blame El Nino:
“Well, El Nino is going away, in fact it’s officially gone. And we’re probably transitioning, pretty rapidly in fact, to the opposite phase. High pressure that’s been influencing us for probably the last three or four weeks probably isn’t directly associated with that breaking down El Nino, there’s some other factors that are preventing that high pressure from cycling on off and over to the ocean. So, it’s not directly attributed to El Nino, we do tend to have relatively warm summertime conditions during some El Nino events, but we’ve had some other years where we had warm summertime conditions where we didn’t have El Nino. Typically, El Nino isn’t a good indicator of our summertime weather conditions.”
The current high pressure system that’s been the instigator of the triple-digit heat is predicted to be moving on over the weekend:
“That’s exactly what’s going to happen, instead of having winds from the west, and northwest, that are very dry, and also very warm, we’re going to see start to see winds turn more from southwest and the south and bring up that moisture from the Gulf and from the Caribbean and it’s going to bring us more typical summertime conditions that we expect around here.”
As far as drought goes, Boyles says right now ground water, and city water supplies remain relatively unaffected:
“Mostly, what we’ve seen so far in terms of impact has been just to agriculture and plant stress. We really haven’t seen any problems with water supplies, ground water levels across the state are in a good range, streams are a little low right now, reservoirs are in pretty good shape. Most of the impacts that we’re seeing are in the vegetation and crops right now.”
Dr. Ryan Boyles, NC State Climatologist.
Take a look at this week's Drought Monitor maps and coverage stories:
Overall NC Crop Condition Declines Slightly due to Hot, Dry Weather
South Carolina’s Crops Pace Ahead of Average
Excessive Heat in Virginia Leaving Some Crops in Critical Condition