Monitoring and Coping with Drought

Monitoring Drought

When drought occurs, the ramifications can be felt long after the rain finally falls again. We encourage you to use the United States Drought Monitor (USDM) as a resource to view drought trends across the country and how they may impact your area.

About the USDM

The USDM was launched in 1999 and identifies areas around the country that are experiencing drought, labeled by the following intensity classification:

  • D0 – Abnormally Dry
  • D1 – Moderate Drought
  • D2 – Severe Drought
  • D3 – Extreme Drought
  • D4 – Exceptional Drought

The map is updated weekly on Thursday mornings, based on data through the previous Tuesday, meaning that it’s not a forecast of drought conditions that are to come, but rather an assessment of past conditions.

The monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Drought Major Trends

From July 2017, until now, every drought category monitored by the USDM has grown in size in the Continental U.S. For example, extreme and exceptional drought (categories D3–D4) has grown from 1.43% of the Continental U.S. to 8.33%. Areas considered under a severe to exceptional drought (D2–D4) grew from 3.83% to 16.64% of the Continental U.S.

The graphic below shows the one year change in drought categories across the U.S. The image on the left is from July 3, 2017. The image on the right is from July 5, 2018. Maps like this can be generated on the USDM website for custom date ranges. The USDM maps section also offers animations, comparison sliders and downloadable PDFs and images.

Drought Progression

Coping with Drought

What should you do when your region is experiencing drought? Shade fabric and ground cover are tools you can use to help address a water shortage and reduce moisture loss. For example, shade keeps livestock cooler, so they require less water. Likewise, ground cover helps minimize the amount of evaporation that will occur.

Acadian Industrial Textiles will provide updates periodically to help you stay in the loop about which regions are experiencing drought conditions. We also encourage you to reference the USDM for the most up-to-date information.