U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor, established in 1999, is a weekly map of drought conditions that is produced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The U.S. Drought Monitor website is hosted and maintained by the NDMC.

This resource was featured in the February 26, 2016, ASAP Newsletter.

"At long last El Niño has arrived in California, but the perennially-parched golden state is still hurting for the wet stuff. Yes, the current climate phenomenon is one of the strongest ever observed in terms of Pacific Ocean temps, but shifts in the atmospheric effects of El Niño have relegated precipitation to Northern California. Southern cities such as Los Angeles are experiencing below-average seasonal rainfall, while an above-average amount of snowpack is accumulating in the Sierra Nevadas. Despite the replenishment of water resources in Northern California, the National Drought Mitigation Center has kept California's drought map largely unchanged since last fall. As described in the drought monitor report, the conditions in California have built up over four years—even if this winter brings above-average precipitation to the state as a whole, it won’t catch up to water resources lost."

U.S. Drought Monitor maps come out every Thursday morning at 8:30 eastern time, based on data through 7 a.m. the preceding Tuesday. The map is based on measurements of climatic, hydrologic and soil conditions as well as reported impacts and observations from more than 350 contributors around the country. Eleven climatologists from the partner organizations take turns serving as the lead author each week. The authors examine all the data and use their best judgment to reconcile any differences in what different sources are saying.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, a composite index that includes many indicators, is the drought map that policymakers and media use in discussions of drought and in allocating drought relief. The USDA’s Farm Service Agency used the U.S. Drought Monitor to distribute an estimated $1.64 billion from 2008 to 2011 through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program; $50 million in 2007 through the Livestock Assistance Grant Program; and additional funds through the Non-Fat Dry Milk Program in 2003 and 2004. The Internal Revenue Service also uses the U.S. Drought Monitor to determine the replacement period for livestock sold because of drought. As part of its response to the drought of 2012, the USDA streamlined the process for secretarial disaster declarations, making declarations nearly automatic for a county shown in severe drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor for eight consecutive weeks.


If you have any trouble accessing the website link above, please find here an archived page. You may find this has limited use.


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  • Monitoring


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