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Three western North Carolina counties experiencing extreme drought


While eastern North Carolina is still reeling from the flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew, three counties in western North Carolina have been designated as experiencing extreme drought conditions.

The extreme drought in Cherokee, Clay and Macon counties was caused by below normal rainfall and has significantly impacted agriculture in those areas. A lack of significant rainfall in recent months has resulted in below normal ground water levels and stream flows.

“Due to the lack of precipitation, farmers in these counties have suffered from major crop and pasture loss in the last few months,” said Linwood Peele, chair of the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council.  “So far, the lack of rain in Cherokee, Clay and Macon counties has not had an impact on the counties’ water supply systems.”

A federal map released Thursday moved the three counties into the extreme drought category – the first time since August 2011 that any part of North Carolina has experienced such conditions. Another nine North Carolina counties are experiencing severe drought, while eight counties are experiencing moderate drought. In addition, six counties are abnormally dry, which means drought in those areas could reemerge without adequate rainfall. The drought map can be found at

State officials remind the public to abide by any water restrictions that may have been enacted by their local water system. To see each system’s water conservation status, visit Drought categories are based on streamflow, groundwater levels, the amount of water stored in reservoirs, soil moisture, the time of year and other relevant factors for assessing the extent and severity of dry conditions.




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