Severe drought impacts Midlands
Midlands drought conditions are worse now than at anytime in 2018. The United States Drought Monitor upgraded parts of the area to severe drought in the southern Midlands and expanded the moderate drought status across the central Midlands.
This marks the first time this year any portion of the WACH Fox viewing area has been designated under severe drought. Specifically central and southern Orangeburg County as well as the extreme southern tip of Clarendon County now fall into severe drought.
"Severe drought in the southern Midlands is a noteworthy event," says SkyWACH Meteorologist Justin Kier. "This impacts the agricultural community, amateur gardeners, wildlife and it increases the likelihood of wild fires."
According to the USDM, lower than normal precipitation, a deficiency between three to eight inches over a 60 to 90 day period, is the reason for the upgrade. The greatest South Carolina impacts extend from the southeastern Midlands to the Lowcountry where severe drought expanded in coverage.
Aiken, Lexington, Richland, Calhoun, Sumter, Orangeburg and Clarendon Counties were upgraded to moderate drought. Many of these counties have fluctuated between no drought, abnormally dry and moderate drought since 2017.
The only areas in the Midlands exempt from drought are northern portions of Newberry, Fairfield and Kershaw Counties. However, the majority of those three counties remain in the first stage of drought: abnormally dry.
The State Drought Response Committee, under the state's Department of Natural Resources oversight, last updated the drought status in late November. You can read that update here.
Rain is in the forecast for the weekend, but consistent, plentiful rainfall is the key to breaking the drought. Click here for the full seven day forecast.