The ground is so dry that it is literally cracking open.
Click any photo to enlarge. The drought that has brought record low levels to area lakes and streams continues.. Most of the state of NC is now classified as being in an extreme or severe hydrologic drought, based on streamflow conditions. In measuring surface water for the year, the water level in January of this year was at 4.6 feet below the land surface, now in October, the water level is at 7.3 feet below the surface. Drought intensity is measured as follows: D0 is considered abnormally dry, D1 is moderate, D2 is severe, D3 is extreme, and D4 is considered exceptional drought conditions. 97 counties of the states 100 are now experiencing exceptional, extreme, or severe drought, with more than half of the state in the exceptional drought category.
Colorful leaves are falling onto extremely dry ground.
The governor has directed state agencies to begin organizing meetings in areas hardest hit by the drought to discuss water conservation and strategies for identifying supplemental water sources. 70% of the states population is now under some form of water restrictions, whether voluntary or mandatory. In September, Governor Easley said, “I am calling on all public officials in North Carolina who have not already enacted local ordinances for either voluntary or mandatory water conservation to do so immediately,” said Easley. “Public water systems are continuing to have near maximum water demands every day of the week because of the hot, dry weather and there seems to be no relief to the drought in sight“… and it is even worse now. All people living in NC are now urged to follow their Water Shortage Response Plan, and to limit water usage to only those uses that are essential to ensure public health and safety.
Area lakes are extremely low. This photo shows a boat shed that would normally be floating. Note the grass and weeds actually growing in the dry lake bed now.
Rainfall levels are anywhere from a foot to twenty inches below normal for the year. Area lakes and streams are lower than ever recorded. Many creeks and springs have completely dried up. Locally, wells are drying up, and those that are on city water systems are under water restrictions. Our town has closed down car washes, and issued mandatory water usage restrictions to residents. Local businesses are also under severe restrictions. In our county, officials are now considering dismissing schools at 11am daily, to cut down on water usage. This will happen in two weeks, if it doesn’t start to rain and replenish some of the supply.. My younger brother who lives with me is in his senior year of high school, and is just sick at the thought of getting out every morning at 11am, which means he will miss several of his favorite elective classes that he has after lunch.
Several of our neighbors around a mile away have had their wells and springs dry up completely, and now have NO water. The small streams that were so plentiful here, running out of the mountains into the lake, are now gone… with nothing but dry beds and trickles. I’ve never seen the ground as dry as it is right now. Leaves began falling several weeks early here, trees and shrubs are turning yellow and wilting.. Our well is still strong, but since the forecasters say there is no end in sight to this drought, we have started trying to conserve water. I’m no longer watering any of the shrubs or trees, and certainly not the few lawn areas we have. The photo at left shows what used to be a green grassy slope in our back yard.
Our large native rhododenrons are showing signs of stress. I’ve had these shrubs for years, and surely would hate to lose them, but we just cannot keep them watered. The native dogwoods are also showing signs of distress, as are all of the smaller trees and shrubs, and even some of the larger oaks and poplars. Even the pine trees look dry and thirsty, with browning needles.
Strangely, some plants here, especially roses of all kinds, are thriving in the dry conditions, and there are spots of color all throughout the yard. The rose bushes are still blooming and producing buds, including this red shrub rose near the house, and an old fashioned pink rambler along my fence — still full of beautiful pink roses. While temps today are much cooler than they have been, we have had 90+ degree days for weeks and weeks.
I have soaker hoses installed in many of the beds (and definitely plan to put in more next year), and have been able to water the smaller flower beds throughout the season. Now that it’s mid-October and the drought is even worse, I doubt I’ll be watering anything else out in the yards. I have kept a few containers on the decks and porches watered, but at this point in the season, watering containers and annual beds is really not an issue. I really hate to see all my shrubs so dry though, I have so many established evergreens and other things I’ve had for years — I so hate to lose them. As I said, our well is still very strong and we have plenty of water, but still.. with drought conditions what they are, we worry..
On a happier note, today is much cooler and it’s really feeling like fall, the leaves and the mountains are showing colors, the mums are beautiful right now, and the annuals throughout the rock wall bed are all in full bloom.
Let’s hope and pray it starts to rain in our region, and in all other areas affected by this terrible drought, very soon.