County in incipient drought status
Lower than normal rainfall over the past two months led the S.C. Drought Response Committee to upgrade the drought status of 15 South Carolina counties, including Marlboro.
The committee made this decision on Monday, November 27.
The 15 counties now considered to be in the incipient drought stage are: Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Chesterfield, Colleton, Dillon, Dorchester, Hampton, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, Richland, and York.
State Climatologist Hope Mizzell said rainfall in those areas has generally been less than four inches in the last 60 days. Incipient status is the least severe level and is considered a "drought watch" phase, she said.
While no major drought impacts have been reported anywhere in the state, there is some concern about the potential for dry conditions this winter due to La Nina. Winter rainfall is necessary for groundwater and surface water recharging. In addition, the potential for wildfires is a concern.
"If dry conditions continue, we expect to see a rise in the number of wildfires, especially on days when high winds coincide with low relative humidity," S.C. Forestry Commission Forest Protection Chief Darryl Jones said. "A developing drought could also result in poor seedling survival as we enter tree planting season."
Drought is not a concern across the whole state. In fact, Oconee and Anderson counties were downgraded in drought status with above-normal rainfall and improved streamflow conditions.
Marlboro County, along with others in the Pee Dee Basin including Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon and Marion, have below-normal streamflow levels.
The committee will continue to monitor the weather and will meet again as needed to make any changes to drought status.