The Carolinas have had a schizophrenic stretch of weather – Floods in the east. Drought in the west.
The impact on land in the western parts is bad, with crops dying and wildfires threatening forests in the mountains.
Authorities in both states are close to imposing water restrictions.
“In Spartanburg County, all of the reservoirs are dropping daily. Are we at a critical stage? No,” said Brad Powers, a member of the South Carolina Drought Response Committee. “But if it continues as it is, it is going to get bad in a hurry. Not just for us, but for everyone.”
While Hurricane Matthew dumped as much as two feet of rain in some eastern areas, out west, it’s a case of not so much.
Greenville, South Carolina, had 1.43 inches of rain since Sept. 1 with similar totals in the North Carolina mountains.
Firefighters in North Carolina are already fighting several blazes in rugged mountain terrain.
About 70 firefighters are near Sylva, making sure a 375-acre fire doesn’t spread to homes along Dicks Creek. Another fire is burning in the Linville Gorge, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Usually, fall fires involve small debris that’s easier to contain, like fallen leaves and twigs. But a dry summer has left larger branches and dead trees drier than they have been in a decade or more, said Steve Little, assistant fire management officer for the forest service.
“We’re planning for this to last through November or early December,” Little said. “It’s going to take a prolonged rain event to slow this down.”
Fires are a normal part of the life cycle in the mountain forests. But increasing development is bringing more homes into the wilderness, requiring firefighters to take more steps to protect those properties.