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Heat gone but drought still hanging on

Oct 10, 2019 03:50AM

By Alan Hodge

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The long, hot summer certainly seared itself into everyone in our area, but even though the heat has eased up, lack of rain remains despite a few showers earlier this week. Officially, we are in a state of “Moderate Drought”.

Local lake and river levels have experienced to varying degrees  the lack of precipitation.

“The sustained dry weather over the past six weeks or so has impacted all lake levels, especially on our larger (storage) reservoirs: James, Norman, Wylie and Wateree,” said Duke Energy spokesperson Kim Crawford.. “Natural surface evaporation and flow requirements have contributed to these declining levels.”

Recent lake level readings taken by Duke Energy showed the following results. 

Lake James is currently 1.5 feet below its normal seasonal target. Lake Norman is currently 2 feet below is normal seasonal target. Lake Wylie is 0.6’ and Wateree is only 0.2’ below their target levels.

“On October 1, the Catawba basin was still barely in a normal drought condition based on reservoir storage, six-month average stream flow and the U.S. Drought Monitor,” Crawford said. “The lake levels will continue to decline, however, without above average rainfall this month. Our hydro operations team is operating conservatively, although

we’ve had to generate more energy this week to help meet system demand during this unseasonably hot weather, and we have to meet weekend recreation flow requirements. October is the last month for recreation flow releases.”

If your lawn is looking lime shredded wheat, there still might be hope for a recovery with a period of rain.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed for some rain,” said Julie Flowers agriculture/consumer horticulture specialist with the NC Cooperative Extension office in Dallas.  “As for lawns, tall fescue, which is what ninety percent of people in the Piedmont grow, can actually withstand four to six weeks without water.  Though the grass may appear dead, more than likely it will simply go dormant until moisture arrives.” 

More than anything, it’s been the heat that has hit our region over the past several months. Last Wednesday and Thursday, temperatures flirted with the 100F mark and shattered records going back decades.  

According to  the NC Climate Office, our area experienced an average daily maximum temperature of 92.3F in July, 90.3F in August, 92.2F in September, and so far in October 92.5F.

As the cool wave that swept in last Saturday hinted, relief is in the offing. According to the Old Farmers Almanac, October 12-16 is predicted to be sunny and cold, October 17-28 sunny and cool, and October 29-31 rainy and cool. Looking even farther down the road, November 1-3 is predicted to be sunny and cool, Nov. 4-13 rainy and mild, November 14-17 sunny and cool, November 18-22 showers and cold, November 23-29 rain then sunny, and November 30 rainy and cool.