Date of this Version
There is a need for improved drought monitoring and assessment methods in the United States. Drought is the most costly natural disaster [Federal Emergency Management Agancy (FEMA 1995; Wilhite 2000)], but it is often neglected by developers of assessment and forecast products. Drought is more nebulous than other disasters and does not lend itself to traditional assessments or forecast methods. Its relatively slow onset and the complexity of its impacts are reasons for the new assessment methodology. Improvements in drought monitoring and forecasting techniques will allow for better preparation, lead to better management practices, and reduce the vulnerability of society to drought and its subsequent impacts.
The Drought Monitor (additional information available online at http://drought.unl/edu/dm) was created with the goal of tracking and displaying the magnitude and spatial extent of drought and its impacts across the United States. The Drought Monitor is produced weekly and classifies drought severity into four major categories, with a fifth category threshold assigned to locations on a map are determined from a number of indicators, or tools, blended with subjective interpretation.