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Top 10 States Affected by the Drought in the U.S.

September is rolling by as it marks the transition from the dry summer season into what will hopefully be a wetter winter season.

The most recent drought parching the United States for the past three years indicates record low levels of precipitation in the west, while at the same time, above average precipitation levels impact the east. shutterstock_54136180

California, Nevada, and Texas top off the list as the most affected states in the country. Though New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Oregon, Utah, and Idaho do not fall too far behind with dominating “Severe Drought” designations according to the United States Drought Monitor (USDM).

The USDM, through the National Drought Mitigation Center, releases weekly updated maps showing the extent of the drought impact throughout the country.  The ratings are based on a scale of D0, “Abnormally Dry” to D4, “Exceptional Drought.”

The indicator is based on a comprehensive scheme that considers soil moisture content, USGS streamflow measurements, precipitation, groundwater levels, reservoir storage, pasture/range conditions, and additional local conditions that are accounted for.

The USDM estimates that over 51.3 million people are now affected by the drought.

USDM map of drought conditions of the last week of September in 2014.
USDM map of drought conditions of the last week of September in 2010.

States most severely affected by the drought have been forced to take economic, social, agricultural, ecological, and hydrological measures to ensure water resource security for coming years.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), counties experiencing severe water shortages have been designated eligible for certain disaster relief services to displace some of the economic impact on food producers. (I’m not sure if I should take this out all together because it is less relevant, or elaborate further as another example of what the drought is affecting?)

USDA Drought

The USDM maps are updated every Thursday morning.  If you are interested, for future reference you may find the most updated information on the USDM website. Other information can be found at your local water resource and disaster relief agencies. Keep informed!

Drought affects everyone. To learn more about how the water cycle works or for background on vocabulary used , see our Water Sources and Glossary of Water Terms tabs on our website.

A cartoon of the water cycle.
A cartoon of the water cycle.

We offer a free water lab testing service as well if you are interested in how your water quality can be improved.

Stay tuned on Clean Water Stores’ blog for how the drought may impact your personal well water and what you can do to minimize those negative impacts.


The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Maps courtesy of NDMC-UNL.


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