Local resident Bobbie Ashley was sitting in her home Wednesday night when high winds tore through the area followed by thunder and lightning. “I was working from home when everything went dark around 7:24 p.m.,” said Ashley.
All along Woodruff Road in Boonville, limbs and trees littered the roadway, blocking traffic until emergency services could remove the debris. “The power-line in front of my house fell leaving me and my neighbor without power,” said Ashley. “I was really impressed by how quickly Duke Power and the fire department were able to come and clear the road and restore power.”
Other roads and private driveways in the area also were blocked, causing delays for members of the community during their commute on Thursday morning.
The recent storms arrived just after a severe drought reemerged in the Piedmont region of North Carolina for the first time in more than two years. As rainfall deficits and the heat wave started to impact farmers in three Piedmont counties near Charlotte, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued an advisory for the local region.
According to the press release, three counties were upgraded from moderate drought to severe drought, due to the impacts a lack of rainfall and record-breaking temperatures are having on agriculture in those counties. Severe drought is the second worst of the four drought categories. The state’s drought map was updated Tuesday, a day before more than an inch saturated the local community.
“We are seeing impacts to livestock and crops, especially in Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties,” said Mike Yoder, associate director of the North Carolina State Extension. “Pastures have dried up, and we are seeing impacts to soybean and corn crops.”
Bob Stea, who chairs the state Drought Management Advisory Council and works in the Division of Water Resources, recommended that people follow their local water use restrictions.
“We are seeing below normal stream flows and groundwater levels due to the recent lack of rainfall and high temperatures, especially in the southwestern Piedmont area,” Stea said. “If these dry conditions continue, we will likely see impacts to other sectors going into August.”
The press release stated that the status of no other North Carolina counties changed since last week’s North Carolina drought map was published. Twenty-one counties in the western Piedmont and foothills remain in moderate drought while another 23 counties are abnormally dry for this time of year. Abnormally dry is not drought, but means drought could emerge without adequate rainfall. The federal drought map, which can be found at www.ncdrought.org, is updated every week.
The last time any county in North Carolina experienced severe drought was in January 2013.
Rebecca Cumbie, an extension climatologist at the N.C. State Climate Office, also serves on the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council, said Charlotte Douglas International Airport is three inches below normal in rainfall amounts for the season. Also, based on 60-plus years of records, Charlotte and Concord are experiencing their fourth warmest summers-to-date while Lincolnton is seeing its fifth warmest summer-to-date.
To see each system’s water conservation status, go to: http://www.ncwater.org/Drought_Monitoring/reporting/displaystate.php. For tips and ways to save water, go to www.savewaternc.org.
Karen Holbrook may be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.