Not even in the depths of the last drought did Greensboro go this long without measurable rain.
Only a trace of moisture has shown up in the National Weather Service's rain gauge at Piedmont Triad International Airport since May 29 - 37 days ago.That's the longest the area has gone without measurable rain since the weather service began collecting data at the airport in 1928.
And there is only faint hope of relief for at least a week.
Water supplies and stream flows are still in good shape. But lawns that were a lush green a month ago have turned brown, water use has soared to record levels, agricultural crops have withered and forests are threatened by fire.
In addition, highs soaring into the upper 90s have been setting records across the state. One was set in Greensboro Thursday as residents suffered under 98 degrees. The old record was 97 in 1969.
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Greensboro was the only city reporting a record Thursday, although the thermometer hit 100 or higher in three places. It was 102 at Fort Bragg, 100 at nearby Fayetteville and 101 at Goldsboro.
Perhaps no crop dramatizes the effects of the unprecedented dry spell better than corn. On June 11, state figures showed that 92 percent of North Carolina's crop was in good or excellent condition. None was poor.
Three weeks later only 34 percent of the corn crop was rated in good condition and none was excellent. Eighteen percent was in poor to very poor condition.
``I don't know when I've ever seen as dramatic a reversal as that,' said Greg Johnson, state agricultural meteorologist.
The hot, dry weather has also posed a fire threat to North Carolina's forests.
``The extreme heat makes everything dry out faster,' said David Jarman, fire chief with the state Division of Forest Resources.
While no figures are available on the number of fires so far this summer across the state, Jarman said 50 fires burned over 223 acres Wednesday. All were under control Thursday, fire officials said.
A Pender County forest fire consumed 250 acres of woodland Thursday.
Until June, the growing season had been wet. More than 6.5 inches of rain fell on Greensboro during May and crops thrived.
``Suddenly the water was turned off,' Johnson said. That left tender young crops with poorly developed root systems vulnerable to scorching summer heat, he said.
The dry spell has sucked moisture from the top few inches of soil, threatening plants and crops. But ground water levels, fed by more than a year of above normal precipitation, remain above normal for this time of year.
Even the summer of 1986, which ranks as the worst drought on record, wasn't as dry as the 1990 season has been so far.
In June 1986, only 1.1 inches of rain were reported. And it was only the beginning of a catastrophic summer in which 69 North Carolina counties were declared agricultural disaster areas.
But plentiful rains early this year mean this summer shouldn't be as dangerous for crops and water supplies.
South Carolina, meanwhile, is in the first stages of drought.
A large high pressure system over the western U.S. has given North Carolina a northwesterly flow that has brought in little moisture and contributed to the extended dry spell. Widely scattered thunderstorms have brought significant downpours to some areas.
``Every place in the state has had less than 50 percent of normal rainfall,' Johnson said, referring to the past month. ``Most locations have only had 20 to 30 percent.'
The high temperatures, heavy summer construction and skimpy rainfall have created record water demand, said James Moorefield, Greensboro water supply superintendent.
``The demand for potable water has been higher than it has ever been in the city of Greensboro,' he said.
Water levels in Lake Townsend and Lake Brandt - Greensboro's major drinking water sources - are about normal, Moorefield said. During June the city pumped almost 1.2 billion gallons of water - an all-time record.
Forecasters expect some relief this weekend with a cold front moderating temperatures. Highs today and Saturday are expected to be in the mid-80s, but there is only a slight chance of rain.
But by Monday, high temperatures should inch back into the 90s, bringing a new round of heat and humidity.