WATAUGA — Even though the High Country received some rain Saturday, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18, it hasn’t been enough to stave off the ongoing drought conditions stretching across the state.
The US Drought Monitor updates each Thursday, so conclusions have not been made about the rain the High Country received on Dec. 18, which was under a quarter inch, according to the weather observation station on the Watauga Medical Center’s heliport.
The weekly drought update on Dec. 16 stated that the “abnormally dry” conditions expanded into the western corners of North Carolina.
While the most westerly edges of Watauga and Avery counties had been previously spared from the abnormally dry designation, the continued lack of significant rainfall has pushed the entirety of both counties into the “abnormally dry” designation.
The NC Climate Office, a service center of NC State’s College of Sciences, released a Dec. 14 update which stated that while recent rainfall helped remove severe drought designations on the southern coast of the state, the mountains didn’t receive enough to improve conditions.
According to the NC Climate Office, Hickory received only 0.35 inches of rain last week and is six inches below normal over the past three months. According to the data collected at the helipad monitoring site, Boone received about the same amount of rain on Dec. 11.
“Rainfall last Wednesday and Saturday was welcome, but most areas need more to make a dent in the drought, as recovery for streams and soils was brief and minimal,” the NC Climate Office stated.
This weekend another system that could bring some light rains will move through the state, and the meteorologists at Watauga’s regional National Weather Service site, NWS-Blacksburg, suggest optimism for the weekend’s rain.
NWS-Blacksburg is forecasting an 80 percent chance of rainfall Saturday, Dec. 18 and a 90 percent chance on Sunday, Dec. 19, both days looking at around a tenth to a quarter of an inch of rain.
Cloud cover, according to NWS-Blacksburg’s forecast discussion, will limit the unseasonably high temperatures, but the high daily temperatures are still expected to remain 15 to 25 degrees above normal for this time of year.
To learn more about the NC Climate Office’s drought classifications, visit ncdrought.org.
Marisa Mecke is a Report for America corps member for Mountain Times Publications. Report for America is a national nonprofit service program which places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under covered issues.