What is Drought Monitor?

Drought Monitor is a tool used to assess and monitor drought conditions in the United States. It provides a comprehensive overview of current drought conditions, including the severity and extent of drought across different regions of the country. The Drought Monitor is widely used by government agencies, researchers, and policymakers to make informed decisions regarding water resource management, agriculture, and emergency planning.

How does Drought Monitor work?

The Drought Monitor utilizes a combination of data sources and indicators to assess drought conditions. These sources include precipitation data, soil moisture measurements, streamflow levels, and satellite imagery. The data is collected and analyzed by a team of experts from the National Drought Mitigation Center, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Understanding the Drought Monitor categories

The Drought Monitor categorizes drought conditions into five main categories: Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate Drought (D1), Severe Drought (D2), Extreme Drought (D3), and Exceptional Drought (D4). Each category represents a different level of drought severity, with D0 being the least severe and D4 being the most severe. These categories are based on a combination of scientific data and expert judgment.

Impacts of drought

Drought can have significant impacts on various sectors, including agriculture, water supply, ecosystems, and the economy. In agriculture, drought can lead to reduced crop yields, increased irrigation demands, and livestock losses. It can also result in water shortages for drinking water supplies and hydropower generation. Ecosystems can suffer from reduced water availability, leading to habitat loss and increased risk of wildfires. The economic impacts of drought can include decreased agricultural productivity, increased food prices, and job losses in affected industries.

Benefits of the Drought Monitor

The Drought Monitor provides valuable information for decision-makers and stakeholders. By accurately assessing and monitoring drought conditions, it helps in the development of effective drought mitigation strategies and policies. It allows for early warning of drought conditions, enabling proactive measures to be taken to minimize the impacts. The Drought Monitor also facilitates communication and collaboration among different agencies and organizations involved in drought management.

Limitations of the Drought Monitor

While the Drought Monitor is a valuable tool, it does have some limitations. One limitation is that it relies on various data sources, which may have inherent uncertainties and limitations. Additionally, the Drought Monitor focuses primarily on meteorological drought, which is based on precipitation deficits. It may not fully capture other aspects of drought, such as hydrological or agricultural drought. Furthermore, the Drought Monitor provides a broad-scale assessment and may not capture localized or regional variations in drought conditions.

Future developments and improvements

Efforts are continuously being made to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of the Drought Monitor. This includes incorporating new data sources and indicators, refining the methodology used for drought categorization, and enhancing the communication and dissemination of drought information. Advances in technology, such as remote sensing and modeling, are also being utilized to enhance the monitoring and prediction of drought conditions. These ongoing developments aim to provide more timely and accurate information to support decision-making and drought management efforts.


In conclusion, the Drought Monitor is a powerful tool for assessing and monitoring drought conditions in the United States. It provides valuable information for decision-makers and stakeholders, helping to inform drought mitigation strategies and policies. While it has some limitations, efforts are being made to improve its accuracy and effectiveness. The Drought Monitor plays a crucial role in managing the impacts of drought on various sectors and ensuring the sustainable use of water resources.