For the first time since August, North Carolina is now drought-free. Some areas of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon and Dare counties remain abnormally dry, but the remaining 95 counties are now at or above normal moisture levels.
Heavy rains last week banished all but a spot of severe drought from the mountain region, with more relief likely to be reflected in next week’s drought map from the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council.
Much of the western region is now in drought, with severe drought entering the state for the first time since November 2022. This is now the third consecutive fall in which parts of Western North Carolina have reached the “severe drought” designation.
North Carolina saw its 26th coolest May in the last 129 years, with the National Centers for Environmental Information reporting a preliminary statewide average temperature of 64.4 degrees, 2.5 degrees below the 1991-2020 average.
During his 30 years living and teaching in Western North Carolina, Maurice Phipps has heard countless tales of tragedy and near misses set in the Southern Appalachian backcountry — people falling off waterfalls , shivering in the cold while awaiting rescue after a wrong turn on the trail, or logging hair-raising experiences with wildlife .