RALEIGH — The remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl helped end a moderate drought in southeastern North Carolina, leaving the state drought-free for the first time since late June 2010.
Parts of central North Carolina, including Durham, Orange and Chatham counties, remain abnormally dry, according to the latest map released by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday. But until now, at least some part of the state has been in a moderate drought or worse for nearly two years.
Tropical depression Beryl crossed eastern North Carolina last Wednesday, dropping several inches of rain in some areas. Before Beryl, the last remaining areas of moderate drought were along the southeastern coast, where the storm dropped more than 3.5 inches of rain at Wilmington, according to the National Weather Service.
In addition to rainfall, the U.S. Drought Monitor takes into account factors such as stream flow, groundwater levels and soil moisture to determine the severity of a drought. A moderate drought is the least severe of four levels of drought.
A dry winter put the Triangle in a moderate drought that lasted from February to mid May.
But Triangle reservoirs have remained at or near capacity this year, helping to prompt the city of Raleigh to rescind a rule that restricted the watering of lawns to alternating days. That rule, put in place during a severe drought that began in 2007 and stretched into 2008, also applied to the six Wake County towns that receive water from the city: Garner, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon.
State officials warned that the absence of drought is precarious, especially during the summer when most rainfall comes from scattered storms.
North Carolinas rainfall becomes more difficult to forecast, as well as less reliable, during the summer months, said Michael Moneypenny, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Raleigh and a member of the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council.