Grand Strand, parts of Pee Dee in incipient drought

The drought status level for every county in South Carolina increased one level today after a meeting of the South Carolina Drought Response Committee.

Oconee, Pickens, Anderson, Abbeville, McCormick, Greenwood, Edgefield, Saluda, Newberry, Lexington, Aiken and Barnwell counties moved to the severe drought level.

Greenville, Spartanburg, Cherokee, York, Laurens, Union, Chester, Fairfield, Richland, Sumter, Calhoun, Orangeburg, Clarendon, Allendale, Bamberg, Dorchester, Berkeley, Hampton, Colleton and Jasper counties were upgraded to moderate drought status.

All other counties in the state that were previously at no drought are now incipient. This includes the counties in WPDE NewsChannel 15's viewing area.

According to Hope Mizzell, SC State Climatologist, since late September rainfall has been much below normal statewide, "Most locations that were upgraded to severe drought have received less than 50% of normal rainfall over the last 60 days resulting in deteriorating hydrologic conditions." She also pointed out that the last time this many counties were in severe drought was winter 2008/spring 2009.

Drought Response Committee Chairman Ken Rentiers said the committee is expected to reconvene sometime in late January 2013, to reexamine drought conditions around the state.