For the first time in 14 months, the state of North Carolina is drought free, as reported in the weekly Drought Monitor released by the Drought Mitigation Center on Thursday. Applied climatologist with the North Carolina State Climate Office, Corey Davis:
“Yeah, that’s right. This is basically the culmination of a really wet spring across the state. If you’ll remember back to last fall, in November, we had parts of the mountains that were in extreme drought conditions, and that was part of a larger drought that extended down into Georgia, and South Carolina, and Alabama as well. But, again, thanks to a lot of rainfall in the last three or four months, we’ve slowly removed those drought conditions in the mountains. Especially now that the growing season has begun that rainfall came right in time.
The reservoir levels are looking good all across the state. And now, with this week’s update, especially with the heavy rainfall the last seven days we’ve seen all that drought, all the abnormally dry conditions completely removed from North Carolina. And it’s the first time since last March that that’s happened.”
Well, prior to last March, our drought situation was tenuous at best.
“Right, we exited last winter, which was that strong El Nino-driven winter that was pretty wet, but then when we got out of February, it was really pretty dry in March, and we got back into just a little bit of abnormally dry conditions, then we had some more rains in March, and we wiped that away. Then, of course once we got later in the spring, and the summer, conditions did start to dry out a little bit more, and at that point, especially in the western part of the state started to see that drought build, on into last fall.”
Let’s talk about current weather conditions, Corey. It was hot and dry, then cold and wet, and we’ve been through this pattern two or three times through the past five or six weeks. Is it ever going to level out?
“So, a lot of what we’re seeing right now are symptoms of a neutral ENSO pattern in the Pacific. You remember, last winter, we were in a La Nina pattern, but getting out of that by the end of the winter. Now, it’s pretty much right between an El Nino and a La Nina, there’s a chance, it looks like, that we’ll get back into an El Nino by say this fall, or the coming winter, there’s still a lot of uncertainty with that.
“So, at this point there is really no strong influence from that ENSO pattern, which is basically giving us this up and down weather. It’s just as easy for us to get that big ridge off the coast that funnels in that 80-90 degree heat, as it is to get a trough that moves over, and bring a big storm system and cool us down into the 50’s and 60’s.”
So, you’re saying this could continue for some time…
“Well, for the time being, especially as we get into the first week of June, it does look like we’ll have that variable pattern continue, looks like early, or maybe the middle of next week, we might have another shot of cooler air.
‘As far as the Memorial weekend goes, it should be fairly calm, not a whole lot of chances of precipitation, except for maybe an afternoon shower or storm. Probably highs in the 80’s, which is what we expect. Our normal high for this time of year across central North Carolina is about 80 degrees. At this point, we’re probably the most normal that we have been in the last year.”
Applied Climatologist for the State Climate Office in North Carolina, Corey