Most of South Carolina is in moderate or severe drought, and all 46 counties are in some drought stage, according to the state agency that monitors the conditions.
On Tuesday, the South Carolina Drought Response Committee upgraded the drought status in every county by one level. Conditions were most dire in 12 of the state’s western counties, where the drought was determined to be severe. The middle of the state was in moderate drought, while the eastern and coastal areas were the least severe.
The last time this many South Carolina counties were in severe drought was winter 2008, according to state climatologist Hope Mizzell. Most places in severe drought have received less than half of normal rainfall amounts over the past two months, she said.
Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said water releases from Thurmond Dam had been cut and might be further reduced to keep reservoirs from getting too low.
Forestry officials said they were worried the drought could mean a very active wildfire season, as brush and trees continue to dry out.
Rain is forecast Sunday, but conditions are set to dry out throughout the upcoming week. Crop conditions are slightly dry but not in dangerous territory, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There have been some positive effects from the dry weather. Dry conditions meant brighter foliage throughout the Carolinas this fall, with some trees in South Carolina starting to show their bright colors by September, peaking a month or two later.