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Rain begins to heal Charlotte region’s drought

A composite map of shallow groundwater wells and stream flows shows normal conditions, at least temporarily, near Charlotte.
A composite map of shallow groundwater wells and stream flows shows normal conditions, at least temporarily, near Charlotte. N.C. Division of Water Resources

Last weekend’s rains will help pull the Charlotte region out of drought, but not instantly.

Parts of four counties west of Charlotte – Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln – are still officially in severe drought. Mecklenburg and 18 other counties are in moderate drought, the second of five stages.

Those counties are likely to see improvement when the state drought map is updated Thursday. A week of rain totaled more than 5 inches in some places.

Charlotte, after getting nearly 6 inches of rain since Sept. 1, is now 4 inches below normal for the year.

A composite map of groundwater levels and stream flows posted Tuesday showed an unusually wet state, including most of Mecklenburg County.

But it will take more than a few days of rain to snap a dry spell that began in late spring and deepened into drought in June.

“It took us a long time to get into this drought and will take a long time to get out of it,” said Duke Energy’s Lisa Parrish.

The upper Catawba River basin, which Duke manages under a federal license, got nearly 3 inches of rain over the weekend. The middle portion got about 2.5 inches and the lower end more than 5 inches.

Lake Wylie rebounded to its normal level and Lake Norman is a foot below its target.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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