Drought reaches exceptional levels - FOX Carolina 21

Drought reaches exceptional levels

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Drought levels range from abnormally dry all the way up to exceptional, and now the worst of it "exceptional drought" has reached our area.

Stephens and Franklin counties in northeast Georgia, the western half of Oconee County, as well as Graham, Macon, and most of Swain counties in NC have all reached exceptional drought levels. The rest of our area is generally under extreme drought, with a few closer to the midlands at severe levels.

As of today, the Upstate is 11.46" behind in rainfall totals, and the mountains are behind 10.67". The outlook over the next few months keeps abnormally dry conditions in the southeast, leading us to believe the drought will only get worse.

The last time our area saw this intense lack of rainfall was in 2007.

Wildfires now ravage several mountain counties, as well as Pickens County in the northern Upstate.  Increasing wind this weekend could spread those fires, and the abnormally dry conditions fuel the flames.

A look ahead into the next few days brings little promise of wet weather. Today, temperatures will warm quickly with highs in the mid-70s for the Upstate and low 70s in the mountains. A light breeze is expected, but will slowly get stronger overnight as lows drop into the 40s.

The wind will become gusty out of the northwest throughout Saturday as a cold front brings chillier temperatures. This will cause fires to spread more rapidly and containment lines to be harder to maintain. Highs will be in the 50s for the mountains and 60s for the Upstate, with overnight lows in the 20s and 30s. A small chance for mountain showers pushes in with the wind, but will produce few and far between showers making little impact.

Winds will slowly lessen on Sunday outside of some gusty mountain conditions, but the cold will really settle in. Highs will only warm into the low 50s for the Upstate and upper 40s in the mountains. Sunday night will bring a freeze area-wide, so be sure to protect your outdoor, sensitive plants and make sure your pets have a warm place to go!

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