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Drought Impacts

Drought’s consequences are far-reaching, impacting water quality, public health, the economy, the natural environment, public infrastructure, and more. Understanding drought’s potential impacts enables drought planners and decision makers to better address those impacts and, ultimately, improve their communities' preparedness to cope with drought.

Data and Maps

To monitor and respond to drought, its impacts on a community must be fully understood. Immediate drought impacts can include visibly dry vegetation and lower water levels in lakes and reservoirs. Longer-term impacts, such as land subsidence, seawater intrusion, and damage to ecosystems, can be harder to see, but more costly to manage in the future. 

Drought Impacts

Drought Information Statements
U.S. Drought Monitor
Cost of Major Drought Events Since 1980

Drought Impacts by State and U.S. Drought Monitor Category

No two states experience the same set of impacts during a drought. Drought in Alaska looks different than drought in Arizona. The following state-specific drought impacts were compiled by the National Drought Mitigation Center. While these impacts are not exhaustive, they can help provide a clearer picture of drought across the United States. 

How Drought Impacts the United States

D0 - Abnormally Dry
  • Short-term dryness slowing planting, growth of crops or pastures.
  • Some lingering water deficits
  • Pastures or crops not fully recovered
of U.S.
D1 - Moderate Drought
  • Some damage to crops, pastures
  • Streams, reservoirs, or wells low, some water shortages developing or imminent
  • Voluntary water-use restrictions requested
of U.S.
D2 - Severe Drought
  • Crop or pasture loss likely
  • Water shortages common
  • Water restrictions imposed
of U.S.
D3 - Extreme Drought
  • Major crop/pasture losses
  • Widespread water shortages or restrictions
of U.S.
D4 - Exceptional Drought
  • Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses
  • Shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies
of U.S.