Some parts of eastern North Carolina are experiencing a drought, just as Hurricane Dorian threatens to douse the region.
Though there has been lower-than-average rainfall near Wilmington, one expert says the storm could still pose risks.
“Even with the dry conditions, the storm could produce enough rain to overcome that and make things flood,” said Rick Neuherz, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.
He said soil can only hold so much water at one time, causing the excess to run off. Still, he said the storm track could dictate the impacts on the region.
Dorian is expected to linger near the state’s coast Thursday, bringing risks of strong wind and storm surge, the National Hurricane Center says.
The system could also dump up to 15 inches of rain in the Carolinas, the center says.
So far this year, the Wilmington area has only seen 25.55 inches of rain — about 14 inches lower than average, data shows.
Water levels are below normal on parts of the Cape Fear and Big Swamp rivers while other waterways in the area are in their normal ranges, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
River levels were about the same before Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina last year, Neuherz said.
“But soil moistures this time around are a bit drier,” he told McClatchy news group.
Hurricane Florence made landfall on Sept. 14, 2018, soaking the state with about 20 to 30 inches of rain, the National Weather service says.
By the end of the year, a record-breaking 102.4 inches of rain fell in Wilmington, records show.
Now, “abnormally dry” conditions are reported near the city, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.
A map shows other parts of southeastern North Carolina as of last week experiencing “moderate drought,” which could threaten crops and water supplies.