Even though there was snow statewide–even up to seven inches in the mountains–drought conditions persist, according to State Climatologist Hope Mizell:
There’s a 10 to 1 ratio in general that’s a rough ratio we use for when you take that snow and you actually melt it down and what’s the water equivalent or the liquid equivalent from a snow event. And so seven inches of snow does not equal seven inches of precipitation.
According to Mizell, 37 counties in South Carolina are still in the first stages of drought. Only the Pee Dee region and some coastal counties have no drought. However, Mizell says the entire state was below normal for the month of December:
Greenville, for example, for the whole month of December only reported 1.16 inches so far. That’s only 35 percent of normal. Places like Columbia, 1.4–that’s only 50 percent of normal for what we should have received in the month of December.
Snow has a slow melt and that seeps into the ground–and that is good, says Mizell, but not enough to help the state. She says that this winter forecast has been extra challenging:
This winter forecast has been an extra challenge, because as we were approaching winter, all the signs were that we were going to be warmer than normal and dryer than normal. Well, we all know we certainly have not been warmer than normal, as many places are crushing the December record for how cold it has been. As far as the dry forecast, yeah, that seems to be verifying.
The state climatologist says atmospheric patterns have “trumped” the La Nina cycles this winter and made the season colder.
She says winter is critical to restoring reservoirs.
The state Drought Committee will meet again in late January.