Little relief forecast for ongoing drought conditions

emoody@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 18, 2012 

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An inch and a quarter of rain expected in the area through today will help combat dry conditions but won't bring precipitation levels up to normal, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Vern Beaver.

Since Jan. 1, 1.6 inches of rain have fallen in Savannah, the closest gauge the National Weather Service uses for official data to Beaufort County, he said Friday. That's 3.67 inches less than normal, he said.

Even with another shower expected Wednesday, precipitation will remain well below normal, he said.

Beaufort County, like most of the state, is in a moderate drought, according to the S.C. State Climatology Office. Six counties on the western side of the state are in severe drought.

The S.C. Drought Response Committee has a meeting set for March 8 to review the long-term effects of the drought.

Despite the rainfall deficit, the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority has plenty of water available, spokesman Matthew Brady said.

"The Savannah River is really an abundant and sustainable water source, and something we can count on even in times of drought," he said.

However, he encouraged residents to use water as efficiently as possible, particularly if the dry spell continues.

The S.C. Forestry Commission briefly went on red-flag fire alert Feb. 10 because of dry conditions and wind, but it was lifted Tuesday.

The drought currently is not affecting plans for spring-burn week March 4-10 for Port Royal and Beaufort, and more information will be available next week, according to John Robinson, training and education officer for the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department.

The burn weeks are the only time residents can conduct outside burning other than for recreation. Firefighters monitor weather conditions to ensure it is safe for the burning.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeonBeaufort.

Related content: South Carolina Drought Pictures 2011, South Carolina State Climatology Office

As rains arrive, state lifts burn ban

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