The lowest level of drought has now been declared in 9 counties that are located in west and southwestern South Carolina.
The S.C. Drought Response Committee upgraded the drought status to “incipient” for Edgefield, Aiken, Lexington, Barnwell, Allendale, Bamberg, Orangeburg, Hampton, and Colleton counties. The incipient drought declaration is the lowest declaration, followed by moderate, severe and extreme status.
It was the first drought declaration for any part of the state since April 2013. State Climatologist Hope Mizzell said in a release that rainfall totals since June 1 have varied across the state from less than 9 inches in Aiken to more than 34 inches in some coastal observation sites.
Aiken’s June 1 to Sept. 15 rainfall total of 8.79″ was the third driest for that site since 1925, according to the Climatology Office.
Even though coastal areas had received sufficient amounts of rain, the committee decided to include Colleton County because its inland region were much drier than other areas of the state.
The persistent below normal rainfall and resulting hydrologic impacts in the 9 counties led the SC Drought Response Committee to issue the incipient drought declaration.
S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Hydrologist Scott Harder informed the committee that the Edisto and Salkehatchie River basins have been the driest overall in South Carolina, experiencing persistent low streamflow conditions over much of the past two to three months.
The State Climatology Office is part of DNR.