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      La Nina pattern may aggravate SC drought

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- It's hard to believe that something re-emerging in the Pacific Ocean could have a big impact on South Carolina's future drought status, but forecasters say that's exactly what's happening.

      The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center put out a press release confirming that the La Nina pattern is back. This is a concern to the southern United States because this setup usually means drier than normal winters.

      The Midlands are still under drought conditions. The South Carolina Drought Response Committee lists most of the Midlands under a moderate stage of drought. Only Newberry, Saluda and Fairfield Counties are under the first stage of drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows a drier picture across portions of the state.

      At the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, rainfall totals are more than four inches behind the annual average. Other locations around the area aren't fairing much better.

      Back in 2007 and 2008, a devastating drought cost South Carolina farmers millions of dollars. Many saw their farms only water source dry up as unusually hot summers added to the problem.

      The 2010 La Nina setup contributed to snow events, flooding and drought across the United States. While La Nina doesn't guaruntee the drought status will be aggravated, it doesn't look like it will help either.

      The La Nina setup is also contributing to the above average hurricane forecast for 2011. This week's Tropical Storm Nate is the 14th named storm this season. The official peak of hurricane season falls on September 10th.

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