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Cornelius News

How dry we are


Nov. 13. By Dave Vieser. True or false: The genesis of the drought currently plaguing Lake Norman and much of the southeast United States is the Northern Pacific Ocean. If you answered in the affirmative, take a bow.

“Over the last few weeks, the jet stream has actually been largely stuck in place north of the Plains states due to constant storms in the Northern Pacific, bringing dry, warm conditions to most of the United States,” said Weather Channel Meteorologist Jonathan Belles.

The lack of rainfall may be a national trend but it has a significant impact on many local businesses. “We’re busier with boats aground than we would usually be in the early part of November, but we are also fortunate to an extent that it’s the off season,” said Captain Derek DeBord of TowBoat USA. DeBord said his crews had been working helping a sailboat which went aground near Morningstar Marinas. “If this drought lasts into next spring and summer, we will really get busy.”

There’s more than a six-inch rain deficit, according to the official instruments at Charlotte Douglas Airport. But places like New Bern are running as much as 15 inches above normal, thanks largely to Hurricane Matthew.

The lake is showing the impact of the prolonged dry spell. The lake level as of Nov. 1 was 94.7 feet vs. a maximum level/full pond of 100 feet. Duke Energy says the lake is now in a Stage 1 drought condition, when the community is asked to be mindful of its water use and consider conserving energy which also saves water. Residents who use water from a Duke Energy lake for lawn irrigation are being asked to limit watering to Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Landscapers are also feeling the punch of a thirsty Mother Nature. “We could really use a slow steady rain in the 3-4 inch range,” said Mike Bell of Proscape Landscapers, which services many of the townhome and condominium communities in Cornelius. The drought has also had an impact on the usual fall planting season. “We’ve had to hold back on planting new trees and bushes because the ground is bone dry” Bell added.

Feeling the pinch also are facilities and firefighters from the western part of the state and elsewhere. Several state parks were closed on Nov. 12 to allow additional staff and resources to be deployed to fight wildfires in South Mountains State Park and in and around Chimney Rock State Park, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. Firefighters from outside the state have also been called in to assist.

In Cabarrus, Concord, Kannapolis and Harrisburg are implementing Level 1 water use restrictions, due to regional drought conditions.