Drought

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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

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 (see...

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Geological Surveys Database Publications

1963, Florida Geological Survey
Brooklyn Lake receded about 20 ft during 1954-1958 and reached its lowest stage of record (97.2 ft) in Feb. 1958. This unusually large recession was a result of deficient rainfall during more than a 3-year period, Jan. 1954 to May 1957. However, by Oct. 1959, after 2 1/2 years of above normal...
1965, Pennsylvania Geological Survey
Somerset County is adjacent to Maryland in the eastern part of the Allegheny Plateau. Outcropping strata range in age from Upper Devonian to Pennsylvanian, and are described in detail and shown in sections. Total thickness is about 8,000 feet. A cross-bedding and paleocurrent study of the...
2003, United States Geological Survey
One hundred years ago this Memorial Day, the Kansas River overflowed its banks, flooding North Topeka with up to 12 feet of water in some places. Twenty-four people were drowned. Ninety years and almost 2 months later on July 25, 1993, floodwaters again threatened the city, but time and technology...
2010, Wyoming State Geological Survey

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2004, United States Geological Survey

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2016, United States Geological Survey
The Souris River Basin is a 61,000 square kilometer basin in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba and the state of North Dakota. Record setting rains in May and June of 2011 led to record flooding with peak annual streamflow values (762 cubic meters per second [m3/s]) more than twice that of...
2013, Commission on Water Resource Management

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2018, Illinois State Geological Survey

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2018, Illinois State Geological Survey

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2005, Illinois State Geological Survey

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