South Carolina is getting wetter.
The state climatology office announced Tuesday a significant improvement in statewide drought conditions. All but 16 counties — though York is one of them — are seeing normal conditions. York, Chester and 14 other counties are in incipient drought, the least severe of the four stages beyond normal conditions.
“We've experienced a drastic turnaround in just two months' time,” state Drought Response Committee member Dennis Chastain said in a statement.
In early April, York and 12 other counties found themselves in moderate drought, a grade worse than incipient. Lancaster was one of 14 states looking at incipient drought then, while the three northwestern most counties saw severe drought. Only an extreme listing is worse.
York County had been in moderate drought since October, before Tuesday.
While drought impacts everyone statewide with issues like availability of drinking water, areas like Lake Wylie see more specific issues. A lower lake can mean the difference in some homeowners accessing their coves for swimming or boating. Drought often closes public boat ramps and swimming areas.
Duke Energy, the company managing the lake, works with municipal water suppliers throughout the Catawba River basin to set, when necessary, water use recommendations or restrictions in times of drought.
The area remains in Stage 1 drought, which calls for voluntary water use cutbacks. The scale used by the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group runs from no drought at Stage 0 to emergency conditions at Stage 4. The Stage 1 listing from May 9 largely was based on three- and six-month stream flow indicators still dry from recent months of little rain.
Yet even in May group members expected an improved drought status soon. The group next meets June 13.
As of Thursday afternoon, Lake Wylie sat more than a foot above its target lake elevation for this time of year. Just more than a foot below its full pond.