Severe, moderate drought expands in North Carolina, extreme drought introduced – OBX Today

Severe, moderate drought expands in North Carolina, extreme drought introduced - OBX Today

Although most of the state saw some rainfall in the past week, it was not enough to improve dry conditions, leading the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council (DMAC) to expand its severe and moderate drought classifications across the state, and introduce the extreme drought classification for part of one county in eastern North Carolina. 

DMAC classified part of Columbus County as in extreme drought (D3 classification) in the latest drought advisory released Thursday. DMAC also expanded the severe drought classification (D2) to 22 counties, and the moderate drought classification (D1) to 71 counties. Parts of six counties were classified as abnormally dry. The latest classifications mean 94 of the state’s 100 counties are in drought. 

“This June was the driest on record for the state and one of the warmest,” said Klaus Albertin, chair of the DMAC. “As a result, the state has quickly gone from normal in May to very, very dry. Rain during the last week slowed the rapid drying, but was not enough to improve areas. The southern Coastal Plain saw no rain for another week, resulting in expansion of severe drought in the area and introduction of extreme drought in Columbus County.”  

For areas in extreme drought (D3), publicly or privately owned water systems are required to report conservation status to DWR. Systems required to prepare a local Water Supply Plan under N.C.G.S. 143-355(l) that do not have a written Water Shortage Response Plan, as outlined in Rule 15A NCAC 02E.0607, shall implement the default water use reduction measures of 15A NCAC 02E.0613 and 15A NCAC 02E.0614. 

For areas in severe drought, or D2, DMAC recommends water users should implement Water Shortage Response Plans, participate in regional and local coordination for the management of water resources, reexamine water deliver systems to minimize water loss and maximize efficiency and eliminate nonessential users of water. 

For areas in moderate drought, or D1, DMAC recommends water users should adhere to local water use restrictions, project water needs and available water supply for 90 days, among other recommendations. 

“The National Weather Service is forecasting rainfall of 1 to 4 inches across eastern North Carolina in the next week, so the drought conditions may ease up there,” Albertin said. “Unfortunately, damage to many crops may already be done.” 

 DMAC’s drought map is updated weekly on Thursdays.  

DMAC is a collaboration of drought experts from various government agencies in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina, and organized by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources (DWR). Members of DMAC meet weekly and submit their drought condition recommendations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center for updates to the U.S. Drought Monitor (i.e., drought map), a map of the nation’s drought conditions. To view North Carolina’s drought map, visit To view the U.S. drought map, visit