What Is a Drought

"Water! Water! Water!" GIF

Lucy’s thirst wouldn’t qualify as a drought, but the spectrum of drought is still pretty huge. For example, you could be in a drought if you’re only getting rain four days a week during February, if you usually get rain six days a week during that month. Water scarcity that completely dries all local water reservoirs also counts as a drought. Any period of abnormal dryness is a drought.

There are four ways an area can experience drought.

  1. Meteorological drought – When the amount of precipitation is lower than average for a region.
  2. Agricultural drought – When the amount of moisture in the soil is insufficient for a particular crop.
  3. Hydrological drought – When a watershed’s water levels are below their normal levels. 
  4. Socioeconomic drought – When the available water supply is insufficient to meet human needs and a supply-demand imbalance is created.

Some droughts will only affect the environment, and will have little immediate effect on people, since most US water systems are designed to carry communities through short periods of water scarcity. Other droughts can affect communities in more significant ways, whether they lose access to certain types of foods, are subjected to water restrictions, or fully lose their access to water.

There’s a lake near me. Do I still have to worry about a drought?

Yes. The lake will not necessarily save you.

The U.S. Drought Monitor drops a hot new drought vulnerability map each Thursday. Check the map to see your area’s drought status. The color-coded intensity indicator tells you how seriously you need to prepare for a drought. Congratulations, NONE category locations. You have evaded risk for now. D0 to D4 locations… read on with interest.

Hot weather can exacerbate droughts, so if your town is feeIing the heat, keep in mind that drought risk may increase much faster. Climate change is real. You never know what might happen and when. Preparedness always helps. 

The first step of preparing for a drought is learning how to conserve water.

Woman lying on dried out cracked ground
You can’t make your tortured art in a drought-stricken landscape unless you prepare to keep yourself hydrated.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.