Sunset

The sunsets over the Ashley River in Charleston on Thursday, March 14, 2019. After a wet winter, the coast is now abnormally dry. Matthew Fortner/Staff

More than 2 feet of rain fell in the South Carolina mountains this winter. In Charleston, little more than 2 inches has.

The coast is considered "abnormally dry" by the U.S. Drought Monitor and being closely watched for drought conditions by the S.C. Climate Office.

The federal Climate Prediction Center calls for it to stay dry here for at least the next two weeks, with rainier weather forecast to return in April.

Want to know how weird the wet-to-dry shift has been? November and December in Charleston were the wettest on record for that two-month stretch: 15.21 inches of rain, according to State Climatologist Hope Mizzell. The stretch from Jan. 1 to March 15 has been the third driest on record.

The 2.88 inches of rain for Charleston from Jan. 1 to March 15 is more than 5 inches below normal, she said.

A spate of rain and maybe thundershowers was forecast for later Friday but not expected to add more than a quarter inch, said meteorologist Ron Morales, with the National Weather Service office in Charleston.

Drought has plagued South Carolina off and on since the late-1990s, and this time of year tends to be dry for the coast until warmer weather storm and shower patterns kick in. Rains in April broke dry or drought conditions across the state that had lasted for two years in some locations.

A consensus of climate researchers now agrees that extremes in weather are becoming more common as air and seas warm. 

What's happened this winter? Storms have missed the coast while raking the Upstate, just one of those freaks in the seasonal flows of air. More than 14 inches of rain have fallen in Greenville, fewer than 7 inches in Columbia.

"It's just been the storm tracks," Mizzell said.

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Reach Bo Petersen at @bopete on Twitter or 843-937-5744.

Science and environment reporter. Author of Washing Our Hands in the Clouds.