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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

National Weather Service drought information statements provide up-to-date reports on the current drought situation for a Weather Forecast Office’s county warning and forecast area. These statements summarize recent weather and hydrologic conditions, discuss local drought impacts, and provide a local drought outlook.

This map shows all active drought information statements published within the last 35 days. Learn more.

View All Statements

NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information have been tracking billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the U.S., including extreme drought events, since 1980. This map shows the cumulative cost of billion-dollar drought events by state from 1980 to the present. Specifically, the map reflects drought-induced costs associated with damaged or failed crop production and increased cattle feeding costs. Key sources include USDA crop insurance and production data (RMA and NASS) that may be supplemented by state agency reporting. Learn more

Drought Information Statements

The blue boxes with an i icon identify:
Active Statements

U.S. Drought Monitor Categories

The color with the hex code #ffff00 identifies:
D0
The color with the hex code #ffcc99 identifies:
D1
The color with the hex code #ff6600 identifies:
D2
The color with the hex code #ff0000 identifies:
D3
The color with the hex code #660000 identifies:
D4

Cost of Major Drought Events Since 1980

The color with the hex code #ffffff identifies:
$0
The color with the hex code #faf3ce identifies:
$5M - $100M
The color with the hex code #faea96 identifies:
$100M - $250M
The color with the hex code #ffe971 identifies:
$250M - $500M
The color with the hex code #f9c555 identifies:
$500M - $1B

The color with the hex code #f3a43f identifies:
$1B - $2B
The color with the hex code #d27e3f identifies:
$2B - $5B
The color with the hex code #a9512a identifies:
$5B - $10B
The color with the hex code #762212 identifies:
$10B - $20B
The color with the hex code #501011 identifies:
$20B - $50B

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
53.3
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
36.9
of U.S.
D2 - Severe Drought
  • Crop or pasture loss likely
  • Water shortages common
  • Water restrictions imposed
25.9
of U.S.
D3 - Extreme Drought
  • Major crop/pasture losses
  • Widespread water shortages or restrictions
18.3
of U.S.
D4 - Exceptional Drought
  • Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses
  • Shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies
8.1
of U.S.