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American Drought

A Look at Drought in the United States (2000-2016)

Drought is often seen as a problem that mainly affects the western United States. However, it affects the entire country. Severe droughts have hit not only California, but places as diverse as Texas, Massachusetts and Georgia.

Droughts can linger for years as in California's current drought. In other cases they can end abruptly. Notice how Texas drought levels plummeted in June 2015 due to record rainfall in late May.

January 2000

Percentage of State at a Particular Drought Level

Interpreting the Drought Circles

Drought Level Colors

Drought Affects

The United States Drought Monitor defines the affects of various drought levels as follows:

  • DO
    • Short-term dryness slowing planting, growth of crops or pastures
  • D1
    • Some damage to crops, pastures
    • Streams, reservoirs, or wells low, some water shortages developing or imminent
    • Voluntary water-use restrictions requested
  • D2
    • Crop or pasture losses likely
    • Water shortages common
    • Water restrictions imposed
  • D3
    • Major crop/pasture losses
    • Widespread water shortages or restrictions
  • D4
    • Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses
    • Shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies