Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Published as chapter 9 in Handbook of Emergency Management: Programs and Policies Dealing with Major Hazards and Disasters, edited by William L. Waugh, Jr., and Ronald John Hy


Copyright New York: Greenwood Press, 1990.


Drought is a normal feature of climate. Although scientists disagree on what constitutes a drought (Wilhite and Glantz, 1985: 111), it represents a common experience that, in a sense, binds certain regions together (e.g., the Great Plains). During the past century, the united states has been plagued by numerous major drought episodes (e.g., 1890s, 1930s) and innumerable dry spells. In fact, it is unusual for drought not to occur somewhere in the united states each year. Recent short-term droughts that have resulted in substantial damage include the drought and heat wave of 1980 in the southwestern, southern, and central plains, and southern Corn Belt states; the 1983 drought in the Corn Belt; the 1985 drought in the northern and central Great Plains and the Northeast; the 1986 drought in the Southeast; and the 1988 drought in the Corn Belt and northern Great Plains states.