(WGHP) – With the ongoing wildfire in Henderson County, the North Carolina Forest Service has issued a burn ban until further notice for several counties in western North Carolina.
The counties included in the burn ban are the same ones currently experiencing severe drought conditions: Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain and Transylvania counties.
While Asheville is not included in the burn ban or severe drought, areas surrounding the popular destination are experiencing a continued dry spell.
In the Piedmont Triad, most of us are experiencing moderate drought conditions. While no burn ban has been issued in our area, it’s still important to note how dry we’ve been for the last month or so.
In fact, it’s been over three weeks since we’ve had more than a half inch of rain at Piedmont Triad International Airport. The last time we observed more than half an inch of rain in one day was on Oct. 14 when 0.79 inches were recorded at the airport.
While drought conditions can form quickly, we’ve also slowly seen below-normal rainfall amounts since May. The exception to that trend was September when we observed almost two inches above normal rainfall.
While rainfall amounts were considered “below normal” from May through August, it’s really October that has led to the sudden onset of drought conditions.
The Piedmont Triad International Airport only observed 1.26 inches of rainfall in October which is nearly two inches less than normal. The two-inch deficit mixed with an overall warm month has led to moderate to severe drought conditions creeping into the western half of North Carolina.
The Triad has seen a steady decrease in the number of rain days each month. In August, we observed a trace or more of rain on 13 of 31 days.
In September, that number decreased, leaving us with eight of 30 days with observed rainfall.
By October, the Triad only received a trace or more of rainfall on six of 31 days.
If we look at those numbers as percentages, the Triad observed rain during 42% of August, 26% of September and only 19% of October.
Is there any relief in sight?
The short answer is no, not really.
While we’re looking at a possibility for rain on Friday and Saturday with our next cold front, data is hinting that it won’t be significant.
The chance for rain will increase throughout the day Friday with the best chance for rain likely occurring overnight Friday into early Saturday morning. As of now, lingering showers can’t be ruled out for Saturday.
If we look at rainfall totals through Sunday, it doesn’t look great, at least where drought is concerned.
The two different models, European and American, both show less than 0.5” of rainfall total over the next six days.
With that being said, drought conditions will likely worsen before we see any improvement. Be conscious of burn bans and make sure you’re being smart if participating in any outdoor burning.
The one good thing is that we’re heading into an El Niño winter which typically means wetter-than-normal conditions from December through February.
For now, we’ll all do our best to wish for a good soaking rain sometime in the near future!