07/10/08 — Rain came but county still in severe drought

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Rain came but county still in severe drought

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on July 10, 2008 1:45 PM

The drought situation in Wayne County isn't over, but at least it isn't getting worse.

The county remains in the severe drought category, the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council reported today.

The county jumped up from the moderate drought category last week, as hot temperatures and spontaneous rainfall heightened the drought's impact.

Wayne joins 28 other counties in the severe drought category. Thirteen counties in the state are in exceptional drought, 27 are in extreme and 31 are in the moderate drought category.

There are zero counties listed under the abnormally dry category, the lowest category on the drought scale -- one that Wayne County was under only last month.

Levels for the Neuse River, Goldsboro's main water source, are up due to recent rains, however sporadic they have been.

"The thunderstorms have been scattered about a lot. (The county) has been all over the place with rainfall totals. But really since Sunday night through Wednesday, rainfall averaged 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches," said Jonathan Blaes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. "It's hard to pinpoint rainfall over the entire county because some spots got 3 out of the 4 storms, some got rain once and others didn't get it at all."

But this morning, the level of the river was up to 4.72 feet -- a small downfall from a peak of over 5 feet on Wednesday, but a jump from earlier in the week when the level was 2.7 feet.

Goldsboro Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear said the increase is just the rain "catching up with us."

The rain that fell into upstream water sources earlier this week took several days to get to Goldsboro, she said.

But that higher level of water shouldn't disappear within a few days.

"I see it up for a significant amount of time," she added about the Neuse.

And as for the water situation upstream in Raleigh, Falls Lake is the same way -- up.

At 251.79 feet, the lake, which is the main source for the Neuse River, is still over its full mark by about 0.4 feet.

The weather forecast for the next few days looks to push drought concerns further away as the area will soon be a recipient of even more rain.

With the possibility of another round of storms today and along the southern half of the state tomorrow, Blaes said he wouldn't be surprised to see the county receive at least some of the storms.

"Each day, we are actually getting out of this (storm system)," he said.

The weekend looks much better "for those who like to be outside," he said, as Saturday and Sunday are expected to be clear.

Rain, though, will likely return Monday, Blaes said.

"It's hard to say how much (rain the county will receive)," he said.

But, the rest of next week doesn't look as storm filled as this one was.

"It's really going to be a transient thing, a one-day-wonder kind of deal," he said about Monday's expected thunderstorm.