COLUMBIA — All of South Carolina is experiencing a moderate drought.

The state Drought Response Committee voted Thursday to increase the drought status in eight Upstate counties from the lowest level and to drop the status from severe in Horry and Marion counties.

The eight counties upgraded to the second-level drought status are Abbeville, Anderson, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Oconee and Pickens.

Committee members considered a two-level jump to severe in some counties but decided to monitor the situation. They meet again in three weeks.

Duke Energy officials predict the drought will continue at least through the fall and possibly the winter. Lake Jocassee (Jo-CAS-ee) is down 16 feet from normal, and Lake Keowee is down five feet.

State climatologists say the best chance for rain is a tropical storm or hurricane.