York and Lancaster are drying up. Even after Hurricane Dorian, drought spreads in SC

York and Lancaster counties are growing drier.

Those two counties joined nine others this week with their drought status upgraded to moderate. The South Carolina Drought Response Committee lists conditions spanning normal, incipient, moderate, severe and extreme.

Chester County was already in moderate drought status. It’s one of 20 counties to hold its level from the August drought committee update on Wednesday. In all, 31 of the 46 counties in South Carolina sit in moderate drought. Nine more still see incipient drought conditions.

The outlook varies across the state. Marlboro and Dillon counties improved from moderate to incipient. Six coastal or bordering coastal counties aren’t in drought, damped by Hurricane Dorian earlier this month.

Pawleys Island saw more than 22 inches of rain in 30 days. Georgetown, McClellanville, Myrtle Beach and Mount Pleasant each saw more than 10 inches.

Area municipalities saw far less. Lancaster recorded almost 4 inches, more than Tega Cay (2.49 inches), Lake Wylie (1.49) and Rock Hill (1.15).

“Above normal rainfall along the coast significantly improved streamflow levels in the Pee Dee region,” said Scott Harder, state senior hydrologist. “Streamflow levels remain below normal for much of the rest of the state and continue to decline in some areas.”

The drought response committee talked extensively about the possibility of severe drought in some areas because of agricultural conditions.

However, the group elected not to go to severe, concerned doing so could imply drinking water supplies are short. The committee doesn’t want to list severe drought too soon, fearing residents might comply less with water use restrictions if needed later.

The committee meets again in a few weeks.

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John Marks covers community growth, municipalities and general news mainly in the Fort Mill and York County areas. He began writing for the Herald and sister papers in 2005 and won dozens of South Carolina Press Association and other awards since.
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