The drought affecting South Carolina is getting worse. That’s according to the state’s Drought Response Committee, which increased two counties– Marion and Horry– to “severe” drought status and upgraded Kershaw, Lancaster, Lexington, and Richland counties up to “moderate.”
“Severe” is the state’s second-highest level of drought, behind only “extreme.”
State Climatologist Hope Mizzell said the four Midlands counties were upgraded even though they’ve seen a lot of rain in the past week. “I know it can be confusing, because it seems like now our rainfall has been closer to normal,” she said, “But, really, we’ve also had to deal with the excessive heat. So the rainfall that we’ve been receiving has really just barely been enough to keep up with evaporation.”
Right now 28 counties are considered to be in a “moderate” drought, 2 are now listed as “severe,” and the rest are considered “incipient,” which is the lowest level of drought. Those counties currently in a moderate drought are all in the Midlands and Lowcountry. The 16 incipient counties are all located in the Piedmont and Upstate.
Mizzell says the recent outbreak in wildfires in the Pee Dee is part of the reason Marion and Horry counties are now in a severe drought.
Many of the state’s crops have been decimated by the dry weather. Part of Thursday’s teleconference meeting focused on the heavy losses suffered by South Carolina’s corn farmers. The state Department of Agriculture said many counties are potentially looking at a total corn crop failure, along with stress on other crops and livestock.
Mizzell said certain other parts of the state, especially in the Lower Savannah region, are suffering the symptoms of a severe drought. In these areas, the effects are not countywide however, keeping them listed as moderate.