Drought

PDF versionPDF version

Since 1980 the United States has experienced more than 24 major droughts, resulting in almost 3,000 deaths and economic impacts exceeding $225 billion. All areas of the U.S. have some drought risk.

Basics

Pakowki Lake in southeastern Alberta, Canada, a lake that is usually dry but fills up with water when there is a lot of rain. Image Copyright © Michael Collier

Drought is a water shortage caused by abnormally dry weather. Drought is relative to normal conditions, so weather conditions that create severe drought in a state like Georgia may be normal for an arid state such as Arizona. All regions of the United States have some drought risk. The impact of a drought depends not only on the severity of dry weather but also on local water use and supply. To identify and forecast drought, scientists and managers must monitor not only precipitation but also water demand and available water resources. These resources may be found in reservoirs, in rivers, in the soil, and underground as groundwater.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

American Geosciences Institute

Latest News

IES Soils Glyph
(2018-01-04)
December 13, 2017 At an executive session on December 13, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (S.2200) and the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP)...
NOAA U.S. Winter Outlook Temperature Map
(2016-10-21)
On October 20, 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its U.S. Winter Outlook, and the updated La Niña forecast took center stage. Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC), and David Miskus, also of CPC, briefed reporters and...
AGI Forum 2016 Groundwater Issues
(2016-10-21)
There is still time to register for this event! The 2016 Critical Issues Forum, Addressing Changes in Regional Groundwater Resources: Lessons from the High Plains Aquifer, will be held October 27-28 in Golden, Colorado. If you are a current student or belong to an AGI member society, you will...
NGWA logo
(2016-09-27)
The National Ground Water Association published a new Washington Update. They reported that the NGWA Regulatory Affairs Officer participated in a White House Roundtable on National Drought Resistance Resilience and discussed the importance of groundwater monitoring and modeling, the National Ground...
August 2016 Statewide Precipitation Ranks. Image Credit: NOAA
(2016-09-21)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held their latest Monthly Climate Briefing on September 15, 2016, and we have summarized the highlights for you below: •  August 2016 is the 17th warmest (73.6°F, 1.5°F above average), 2nd wettest August (3.47", 0.85" above average) since...
AGI Forum 2016 Groundwater Issues
(2016-09-16)
Register today for the 2016 Critical Issues Forum on Addressing Changes in Regional Groundwater Resources: Lessons from the High Plains Aquifer, which will be held October 27-28, 2016 in Golden, Colorado. Members of AGI member organizations receive a discount on full priced registration. Book your...
U.S. national map showing drought risk.
(2016-08-11)
#MapOfTheDay! Explore #drought risk across the U.S. http://bit.ly/1FRHakA via @DroughtCenter...
IES Water Glyph
(2016-04-26)
April 21, 2016 The American Water Resources Association (AWRA) Policy Committee released the second volume of their report, “Proactive Flood and Drought Management”. As in Volume I, Volume II presents detailed case studies of efforts on local and regional scales to prepare for and mitigate the...
Atlean Lake in British Columbia
(2015-08-12)
July 29, 2015 Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) unveiled a bill on July 29 to help mitigate the drought that is tearing through the state. Their solution involves transferring water from the San Joaquin Valley to central and southern California for agricultural relief. This...
IES Water Glyph
(2015-08-12)
July 16, 2015 On July 16, the House passed the Western Waters and American Food Security Act of 2015 (H.R. 2898), largely along party lines. The bill addresses drought by laying the groundwork for new water storage projects in California and loosens environmental restrictions in the state, a...

Case Studies & Factsheets

Cover of Water Sources for Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Demand Hydraulically fracturing a modern well can require millions of gallons of water for the initial fracturing process. This is a potential problem in arid regions with competing demands for fresh water (i.e. high water stress), such as Colorado and West Texas (...

1 of 1

Geological Surveys Database Publications

2010, United States Geological Survey
Drought strikes somewhere in the United States every year, turning green landscapes brown as precipitation falls below normal levels and water supplies dwindle. Drought is typically a temporary climatic aberration, but it is also an insidious natural hazard. It might last for weeks, months, or...
2008, United States Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

2004, United States Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

2013, United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Georgia Water Science Center (GaWSC) maintains a long-term hydrologic monitoring network of more than 320 realtime streamgages, including 10 real-time lake-level monitoring stations and 63 realtime water-quality monitors. Additionally, the GaWSC operates...
2002, Pennsylvania Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

2014, United States Geological Survey
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Georgia Water Science Center (GaWSC) maintains a long-term hydrologic monitoring network of more than 330 real-time streamgages, including 10 real-time lake-level monitoring stations, 63 real-time water-quality monitors, and 48 water-quality sampling stations....
2009, United States Geological Survey
In the Southeast, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are researching issues through technical studies of water availability and quality, geologic processes (marine, coastal, and terrestrial), geographic complexity, and biological resources. The USGS is prepared to tackle multifaceted...
2003, United States Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

2016, United States Geological Survey
CaliforniaâEuro TMs vast reservoir system, fed by annual snow-and rainfall, plays an important part in providing water to the StateâEuro TMs human and wildlife population. There are almost 1,300 reservoirs throughout the State, but only approximately 200 of them are considered storage reservoirs,...
2010, United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Georgia Water Science Center (WSC) maintains a long-term hydrologic monitoring network of more than 317 real-time streamgages, more than 180 groundwater wells of which 31 are real-time, and 10 lake-level monitoring stations. One of the many benefits of...