Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Schwartz et al. Oct-Dec 2023. DOI: 10.1175/WCAS-D-22-0142.1


Open access.


Because flash drought is a relatively new phenomenon in drought research, defining the concept is critical for scientists and decision-makers. Having detrimental impacts on many sectors, it is important to have a consistent definition and understanding of flash drought, between experts and stakeholders, to provide early warning to the community. This study focuses on onset and progression of conditions and demonstrates the difference in flash drought identification for 15 events across six quantitative definitions of flash drought that use the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM). Five flash drought events have been studied in the literature while 10 additional events have been perceived as flash drought by stakeholders. The results show that two of six definitions consistently capture the earliest onset of flash drought and include a large percent area in the identification. A qualitative analysis of management challenges and needs determined by stakeholders was completed using survey data. The results found that managing impacts and better communication and education were the top challenges and more data and enhanced and efficient communication as the top needs to better monitor, manage, and respond to flash droughts. The results demonstrate the need for assessing the characteristics of the definitions to enhance communication and monitoring strategies for large and small-scale flash droughts.