COLUMBIA, S.C. — After regular rain for the past two months, South Carolina was declared drought free by the state committee that monitors those conditions.
During its meeting Feb. 7, the S.C. Drought Response Committee determined that the 7 to 13 inches of rain since early December washed away concerns over the lingering drought that had persisted throughout most of 2022.
The incipient drought declaration was removed for Allendale, Barnwell, Beaufort, Chester, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Lancaster, Laurens, Marlboro, Marion, Union, and York. The drought status for all other counties was lifted in November and December 2022.
Priyanka More, S.C. Department of Natural Resources hydrologist, showed that streamflow and lake levels improved to normal levels except for a few lakes that were lowered intentionally for maintenance.
“We do still have a few groundwater wells, especially in the lower Savannah basin, that have not fully recovered from their dryness, but groundwater has a delayed response to recharge depending on the depth of the well, the geology, antecedent soil moisture, and the groundwater use in the area,” More said. “These wells are gradually improving but will need more events of beneficial recharge to return to their normal conditions. SCDNR will closely monitor those wells and provide updates to the committee as needed.”
There was also good news from the S.C. Forestry Commission, which reported no significant wildfire activity lately due to the recent rain. The agency urged those who are going to burn to be responsible and take the necessary precautions.
“We are coming up on what is traditionally our busiest time of the year battling wildfires, late February through mid-April,” said Stephen Patterson, training and safety manager for the Forestry Commission. “Even though the soils and fuels are saturated at this time, that can change rather quickly when certain weather systems push through our area.”
The committee will continue to monitor conditions and meet as needed.