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Hazard Planning & Preparedness

Drought is a significant threat to communities across the nation, with unique challenges, cascading impacts, and associated hazards. By integrating drought into hazard mitigation and preparedness planning, planners, emergency managers, and other practitioners can help mitigate the drought impacts that compound and amplify the impacts of other natural hazards.

The Impacts of Drought in the U.S.

NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) 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.

Cost of Drought Events Since 1980

The color with the hex code #ffffff identifies:
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


Updates Quarterly  -  01/10/21
counties with crops experiencing experiencing drought (D1–D4)
National Weather Service heat warnings
counties with active wildfires
counties with USDA drought designations
Key Issues

Cascading Hazards

Extreme weather events can coincide, interact, or cascade—where one disaster event triggers or changes the probability of another event or a series of events.

Planning Integration

By including drought in multi-hazard planning in an integrated way, a community can consolidate its resources and develop coordinated responses before a disaster.

Drought Impacts on Hazard Planning and Preparedness

Drought is a slow-onset disaster that can impact a region for months or years. It can have far-reaching effects on a community and intersect with other natural hazards. Hazard mitigation planning is conducted to reduce the impact of natural disasters, including drought, by reducing loss of life and property. Multi-hazard risk and vulnerability assessments can examine the individual risks of specific hazards (drought, flood, etc.), as well as the risks of successive hazards, compound risks of multiple coinciding hazards, and the potential for interacting risk relationships.

As communities undertake comprehensive or hazard mitigation planning, assuring that drought is included in the discussion can allow the community to consolidate its resources and develop coordinated responses before the onset of a disaster or multiple extreme events. Integrating multiple hazards into local planning efforts is a key aspect of community resilience and can help facilitate a more rapid recovery from drought conditions. The American Planning Association recommends that water suppliers and land-use planning agencies be involved in the planning process to allow for synchronization of data, policies, actions, and resources, as well as averting possible conflicting policies and duplicative actions.

Drought Early Warning for the Hazard Planning and Preparedness Sector

Many different organizations are responsible for drought preparedness and planning, including water resource agencies, water and energy utilities, farmers, land managers, community planners, city councils, emergency managers, and others. Incorporating drought early warning into existing hazard mitigation plans can better help communities cope with the impacts of drought and related extreme events. NIDIS partners with nongovernmental organizations like the American Planning Association (APA) and the Natural Hazards Center, as well as federal agencies that support drought planning, such as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, FEMA, and the EPA, to develop planning resources and help further advance drought preparedness across the country.

The resources below are organized by the key components of a drought early warning system: (1) drought observation and monitoring; (2) drought planning and preparedness; (3) prediction and forecasting of drought; (4) communication and outreach to the public and affected sectors; and (5) interdisciplinary and applied research on topics of concern to drought-affected sectors.

Related Content

Research & Learn | Monitoring Drought

Drought monitoring involves measuring changes in precipitation, temperature, and surface and groundwater supplies, among other factors. Learn more about the importance of monitoring drought.

Communicating About Drought

Drought communication is important not only for informing people about current drought conditions, but also providing drought education and encouraging people to take actions that promote adaptation.