When in Drought, You Have to Wait it Out

We all know that the impact of extended drought conditions across the country can last far longer than the drought itself. Unfortunately, the only thing you can do when experiencing drought conditions is to wait it out. We also recommend checking in regularly with the United States Drought Monitor (USDM), which provides a weekly update of the latest drought conditions throughout the country.

How are Drought Conditions Measured?

The USDM classifies drought intensity by assigning regions of the country with an intensity score from one of the following six categories:

  • None
  • D0 (Abnormally Dry)
  • D1 (Moderate Drought)
  • D2 (Severe Drought)
  • D3 (Extreme Drought)
  • D4 (Exceptional Drought)

Then, a map is released weekly, showing drought conditions across the country. So, where do we stand now? See the map:

Upon releasing the map each week, the USDM also assigns a DSCI score for the week, which they calculate by adding up the values of D0 through D4. The DSCI score is tracked week over week; a lower score indicates fewer drought conditions nationwide.

Improving Conditions

Over the past year, in particular, we’ve seen drought conditions improve across most of the country. Most noticeably, drought intensity in Southern California and the Southwest region of the U.S. have improved from severe/extreme conditions last March to abnormally dry/moderate conditions, and in some regions, there are no longer drought conditions at all, as of March 12, 2019.

Similarly, the March 19, 2019 DSCI score was 25, down from 104 on March 20, 2018.

The animated graphic below shows how drought conditions changed throughout 2018:

A Double-Edged Sword

While the improvement of drought conditions has many across the country sighing in relief, too much rain in any region may lead to dangerous flooding. The best we can hope for is a happy medium, with just enough rainfall to prevent a drought from happening, but not enough to cause flood damage.

Otherwise, during periods of extreme conditions on either end of the spectrum, all we can do is wait it out.