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What is Drought

Historical Drought

The 1930s “Dust Bowl” drought remains the most significant drought—meteorological and agricultural—in the United States’ historical record.

Drought Throughout History

Drought is a normal climate pattern that has occurred in varying degrees of length, severity, and size throughout history.

Tree ring archives indicate that agricultural droughts such as those that happened in the United States during the 1930s Dust Bowl era have occurred occasionally over the last 1,000 years, and climate model simulations suggest that droughts that may last several years to even decades occur naturally in the southwestern U.S.

Droughts in the 20th- and 21st-Century United States

Looking Forward

Resources

Related Content

Data & Maps | Historical Data and Conditions

Explore historical drought conditions on graphs and maps and access historical drought information from the U.S. Drought Monitor, Standardized Precipitation Index, and paleoclimate data.

Data & Maps | Paleoclimate

Paleoclimatologists use proxy climate records to estimate past conditions, extending our understanding of climate back hundreds to millions of years.