Linking drought impacts to drought severity at the state level

Mary Noel, Deborah Bathke, Brian Fuchs, Denise Gutzmer, Tonya Haigh, Michael Hayes, Markéta Poděbradská, Claire Shield, Kelly Smith, Mark Svoboda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), a weekly map depicting severity and spatial extent of drought, is used to communicate about drought in state and federal decision-making, and as a trigger in response policies, including the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars for agricultural financial relief in the United States annually. An accompanying classification table helps interpret the map and includes a column of possible impacts associated with each level of drought severity. However, the column describing potential drought impacts is generalized for the entire United States. To provide more geographically specific interpretation of drought, state and regionally specific drought impact classification tables were developed by linking impacts chronicled in the Drought Impact Reporter (DIR) to USDM severity levels across the United States and Puerto Rico and identifying recurrent themes at each level. After creating state-level tables of impacts observed for each level of drought, a nationwide survey was administered to drought experts and decision-makers (n = 89), including the USDM authors, to understand whether the tables provided accurate descriptions of drought impacts in their state. Seventy-six percent of respondents indicated the state table was an acceptable or good characterization of drought impacts for their respective state. This classification scheme was created with a reproducible qualitative methodology that used past observations to identify themes in drought impacts across multiple sectors to concisely describe expected impacts at different levels of drought in each state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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