More than half of North Carolina’s 100 counties are experiencing drought as fall begins with unseasonably hot weather.
Forty-eight counties, including Mecklenburg, are under moderate drought conditions, according to the state’s Drought Management Advisory Council. Nine counties, including Gaston, are experiencing severe drought.
Twelve other counties are experiencing abnormally dry conditions that have not risen to drought category.
The new numbers were released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor. There are four categories of drought: moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional. The last time severe drought levels were recorded in North Carolina was April 2017.
“Another week of little to no rainfall and record high temperatures has led to worsening drought conditions,” Klaus Albertin, chairman of the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council, said in a news release. “If the forecast holds, the entire state may experience drought or dry conditions by mid-October.”
The state advises counties experiencing severe drought to limit nonessential water use.
According to the N.C. State Climate Office, this September was one of the top-five hottest Septembers on record for a majority of North Carolina.
This comes as the Charlotte region is bracing for a second day of record-high temperatures. Forecasters expected temperatures to reach the upper 90s on Thursday. On Wednesday, the high was 99 degrees, making it the hottest October day on record in Charlotte.
“Even though the record-breaking heat is forecasted to give way to more seasonal temperatures over the weekend, our chances of seeing relief in the form of precipitation remain low,” N.C. State climatologist Rebecca Cumbie-Ward said in a statement.
Other N.C. counties in the Charlotte area experiencing moderate drought include Cabarrus, Catawba, Iredell, Lincoln, Rowan and Union.
According to WTVD, the conditions are having an impact on the state's apple harvest.
North Carolina’s not the only state facing drought conditions. In fact, about 20% of the U.S. mainland has some level of drought as of Thursday, according to The Associated Press.
There are extreme drought conditions in parts of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Texas, according to the Drought Monitor.
According to AP, that means farm soil is cracking, ponds are drying up, and there’s an increased risk of wildfires.
The following North Carolina counties are experiencing severe drought: