Drought worsens

All or portions of 47 North Carolina counties, including Wilkes County, were experiencing a moderate drought as of Nov. 30. This latest U.S. Drought Monitor map was released Dec. 2.

The National Weather Service (NWS) forecast called for an easing of drought conditions in Wilkes County this week.

The NWS said there was a 50% chance of rain Tuesday night, a 70% chance Wednesday and Wednesday night and a 40% chance Saturday.

Early this week, a ban on all open burning remained in place statewide due to increased wildfire risks.

All but the far western and northern portions of Wilkes County were abnormally dry or in moderate drought, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor map released Dec. 2. The map reflected conditions as of Nov. 30.

A swath of Central Wilkes, running southwest to northeast, was abnormally dry as of Nov. 30. This is the least severe dry weather condition.

The eastern quarter of Wilkes was experiencing moderate drought as of Nov. 30. This results in stress to trees and other plants, reduced stream flow and lake levels and increased wildfire risks.

The rain gauge at W. Kerr Scott Dam collected only .36 of an inch of rain last month, making it the driest November on record in Wilkes County. By Monday, no rain had been recorded in December.

According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the preliminary statewide average precipitation of only .76 of an inch of rain last month made it North Carolina’s third driest November since 1895.

The last November in North Carolina with less precipitation was in 1931, when the statewide average was .75 of an inch. That was part of an extremely dry fall across the southern tier of the U.S. that corresponded with the onset of the Dust Bowl in the southern Plains.

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