CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Forest Service lifted the burn ban for 67 counties Wednesday, leaving it in effect for 33 counties across the state.
The majority of those 33 counties are in the western and northern parts of the state, including some counties in the Charlotte area, including Rowan County.
The ban first took effect on Nov. 29 due to hazardous forest fire conditions, including the fire on Pilot Mountain, which is north of Winston-Salem.
Much-needed rain moved across North Carolina Wednesday morning but it was hardly a ding in the severe drought. First Warn meteorologist Chris Mulcahy said the Charlotte area is about 7 inches below normal for the year.
This autumn was the 18th driest on record, and after a dry summer, the drought is starting to make an impact. The average rain total for December in Charlotte is 3.57", but in order to fix the problem, we'll need above-average rainfall, plus some.
“What people don’t realize is during the winter you have less humidity and that draws the moisture out of grass and the leaves and we also have more dead vegetation on the ground," Concord Fire Marshal Adam Ryerson said.
He stressed that residents in the 67 counties that are no longer under a burn ban should still burn responsibly.
“Always stay near that fire," Ryerson said. "Make sure you have a portable water supply preferably a water hose to extinguish the fire."
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler also reminds us that in some burn cases a valid permit is necessary too.
“If you’re in one of the 33 counties still under the state’s burn ban, please be patient and hold off on burning," Troxler said.
Mulcahy said to cure the drought, the Charlotte area would need 15-17" of rain by the end of February, which could lead to flooding. Every month between now and March would need to see about 2" more than usual to get us back on track.
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