According to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor map, published Jan. 5, only three counties in the state are classified as experiencing extreme drought — down from six in previous weeks. Graham, Jackson and Swain counties have been downgraded to severe drought conditions, a designation shared by nine other WNC counties, including Haywood, Buncombe, Transylvania, Madison and Henderson counties.
Macon, Clay and Cherokee counties, however, are still in extreme drought. Prior to Dec. 8, they’d all — along with Swain, Jackson and Graham counties — been in the category of exceptional drought, the most severe drought designation offered by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The last year the exceptional drought designation was used in North Carolina was 2008.
Drought maps, completed by the U.S. Drought Monitor, are updated every Thursday and available at www.ncdrought.org.