BLOUNT COUNTY - The forecast through Friday calls for half an inch of rain in East Tennessee. While any precipitation is welcome after weeks without any measurable rainfall, it is unlikely to put much of a dent in a damaging drought.
The drought monitor is updated every Thursday and now lists the dry conditions in Knox County as "extreme." Knoxville's rainfall for the year is more than six inches below normal.
Utility companies in Blount County and Scott County have asked residents to reduce water usage. Oneida's main water supply is far below normal and the town is buying water from neighboring Huntsville. In Blount County the Little River's water flow is more than 70 percent lower than normal over the last month. The river provides water for Maryville, Alcoa, and the Tuckaleechee Utility districts.
In Blount County, the extremely hot and dry conditions have hurt farmers.
"It's having a significant impact," said John Wilson with UT Ag Extension in Blount County. "We need a good long slow soaking rain for several days. A half-inch, if it just comes and goes, that'll be a real teaser."
Wilson said the drought impacted yields of this year's corn and soybean crop while also making things difficult for livestock and dairy farms. Now the dry conditions are preventing fall planting.
"This is when some farmers are planting winter cover crops or small grain crops such as wheat. So a lot of those plantings have been delayed due to a lack of moisture," said Wilson.
In Oneida, if the drought persists it may force the town to impose limits on specific businesses.
"If the conservation of the people doesn't do what we want it to do, then we'll have to start cutting off some car washes and cutting off some laundromats," said Jack Lay, Mayor of Oneida.
The wet weather pushing through Tennessee through Friday is also expected to be accompanied by strong winds. The gusty conditions could bring a slightly early end to the dry and colorful fall foliage.
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