Climate change is having a devastating affect on dry areas of the world and began influencing global drought risk for more than a century ago. Models predict that droughts will become more frequent and severe as temperatures rise, potentially causing food and water shortages, human health impacts, destructive wildfires and conflicts between peoples competing for resources. They project a new round of severe megadroughts, resulting in the driest period in 1,000 years for parts of the U.S., with droughts becoming more frequent and severe.

The United States Drought Monitor update their maps every Thursday and Climate Central has an informative page with graphics and videos. 



High temperatures exacerbated by climate change made 2022 Northern Hemisphere droughts more likely

Western Central Europe, North America, China, and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere faced water shortages, extreme heat, and soil moisture drought conditions throughout the summer of 2022

Drought in the Western United States

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) categorizes drought in a region according to soil moisture, streamflow, and precipitation levels. Regional designations can vary and are primarily based on historical weather patterns. Drought can adversely affect many…

Images of change

Disappearing Lake Mead, Nevada-Arizona Border

Climate Change in National Parks

Climate Change Response Program Natural Resource Stewardship and Science. National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior. of glaciers and ice sheets. And of those that remain, most are shrinking at an accelerated rate. These…

Drought in numbers

The report, an authoritative compendium of drought-related information and data, helps inform negotiations of one of several decisions by UNCCD’s 196 member states, to be issued 20 May at the conclusion of COP15.

Western Drought 2020-2022

Climate change is a major contributor to the prolonged and intensifying drought that has impacted the western US since early 2020, as well as the underlying megadrought that has been ongoing since 2000.[1] Rising temperatures…

What the Western US megadrought tells us about climate change

A 22-year megadrought has made the Western United States the driest it has been since at least the year 800, according to a new study. A megadrought is essentially a prolonged drought that lasts for…

Explainer: ‘Desertification’ and the role of climate change

While the term may bring to mind the windswept sand dunes of the Sahara or the vast salt pans of the Kalahari, it’s an issue that reaches far beyond those living in and around the…

National Weather Service – Drought Information

The U.S. Drought monitor is an overview of drought types and drought impacts updated weekly based upon a combination of sources.


Assessing the U.S. climate in October 2022

The average temperature of the contiguous U.S. in October was 55.3°F, which is 1.2°F above average, ranking in the warmest third of the record.Generally temperatures were above average in New England and from parts of…

October Was Bad News for the U.S. Drought

By Angely Mercado   11/10/22  
Recent hot and dry conditions have only fueled the seemingly endless drought that’s pummeling the U.S. for months. October saw higher-than-average temperatures and lower-than-average precipitation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported this week.

At 51 miles long, it’s one of America’s largest infrastructure projects.

By Michael Kimmelman   11/10/22  
February 1938 WAS a wet month in Los Angeles. The ground, where it hadn’t been paved over, was saturated, which meant rain had nowhere to go except into the streets, canals and washes. On the…

In Hunt to Solve ‘Fairy Circle’ Mystery, One Suspect Is Dismissed

By Rachel Nuwer   11/01/22  
The strange, barren spots pepper the vast Namib Desert, which stretches from southern Angola to northern South Africa. They are known as “fairy circles,” and for a natural phenomenon with such a whimsical name, scientific…

Along a withered Mississippi, a mixture of frustration, hope and awe

By Brady Dennis   10/30/22  
Over several days this past week, Washington Post climate reporter Brady Dennis drove more than 400 miles in five states, from Memphis to Cairo, Ill., talking with people whose lives and livelihoods are inextricably linked…

What it looks like as drought strangles the mighty Mississippi

By Brady Dennis, Laris Karklis, Scott Dance and Tim Meko   10/26/22  
Sandra Nelson crouched at a spot of riverbed that would normally be deep underwater, gathering rocks and jars of soil as souvenirs. Nearby, a man with a metal detector roamed the barren ground for treasures…

Seattle, a city known for rain, has received barely a drop since early June

By Jennifer Gray   10/18/22  
After a slow start to summer in Seattle – with temperatures consistently running below normal for the month of June – a huge change happened in July and the city has been sizzling since. “Sunday…

Mississippi River levels are dropping too low for barges to float

By Scott Dance   10/12/22  
The Mississippi River is flowing at its lowest level in at least a decade, and until rain relieves a worsening drought in the region, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain water levels high enough to…

Climate change made summer drought 20 times more likely

By Drew Costley   10/06/22  
Drought that stretched across three continents this summer — drying out large parts of Europe, the United States and China — was made 20 times more likely by climate change, according to a new study.…

Beset by Drought, a West Texas Farmer Loses His Cotton Crop and Fears a Hotter and Drier Future State Water Planners Aren’t Considering

By Autumn Jones   10/05/22  
Climate change is helping fuel the drought, but the state’s political leaders won’t take global warming into account in their water management. “Climate change has become politicized,” says Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.

California Is Expected to Enter a Fourth Straight Year of Drought

By Soumya Karlamangla   09/30/22  
The state’s water year ends tomorrow, which has prompted predictions about what’s in store for the next 12 months. (California’s water year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, so that the winter rainy season…

Feds Will Spend Billions to Boost Drought-Stricken Colorado River System

By Alex Hager   09/28/22  
Money from the Inflation Reduction Act will fund “short-term conservation” measures including removing water-intensive lawns around cities and improvements to make infrastructure less leaky.

The drying of the Colorado and Rio Grande rivers

By Sueellen Campbell   09/22/22  
National TV, cable, and other mass media outlets have been brimming with news that much of the American West is into its longest drought in 1,200 years. What does this mean for some of the…

For Mormons, a perfect lawn is a godly act. But the drought is catching up with them

By Annette McGivney   09/22/22  
In June 2021, Marlene and Emron Esplin stopped watering their front lawn. Given that the Esplins live in Utah, where maintaining lush green turf is often associated with the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy, the…

Where the Colorado River crisis is hitting home

By Kirk Siegler   09/22/22  
These days it can feel almost cliche to throw around the word "dystopian." But it's hard not to use it while standing on the narrow road crossing the Hoover Dam as tourists gawk at the…

2022 North American Wildfires

Typically, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) starts its North American wildfires profile in the summer or even fall. However, as climate change increasingly has a more significant impact, we have been losing the concept…

Map released: September 22, 2022

The data cutoff for Drought Monitor maps is each Tuesday at 8 a.m. EDT. The maps, which are based on analysis of the data, are released each Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Colorado River 100 Years

By Chris Outcalt And Brittany Peterson   09/13/22  
On the 100-year anniversary of the seven states' initial Colorado River Compact, The Associated Press and partner media outlets in the U.S. West are publishing a series of stories about what's at stake for those…

California Drought Leaving Rice Farmers Dry

By Jesse Newman and Others   09/10/22  
Rick Richter has spent the past 43 years flying biplanes over California’s Sacramento Valley, dropping rice seeds into vast, flooded fields that churn out grain for consumers across the globe. In a typical year, Mr.…

Spotty fall colors likely in New England amid drought

By Lisa Rathke   09/09/22  
This summer’s drought is expected to cause a patchy array of fall color starting earlier in the leaf-peeping haven of New England while the autumn colors are likely to be muted and not last as…

Drifting Toward Disaster: the (Second) Rio Grande – Inside Climate News

By Dylan Baddour   09/05/22  
This summer, the Rio Grande dried up in places that it never had before. For more than 100 miles through wild and scenic country, its snaking, sandy bed cradled only a series of warm, stagnant…

Lake Mead’s water level has never been lower. Here’s what that means.

By Emily Mae Czachor   09/04/22  
The American West is facing its most severe drought in human history. Research suggests conditions are drier now than they have been for at least 1,200 years, and, compounded by the effects of climate change,…

Mapping this summer’s extreme divide in rain and drought

By Kasha Patel and Tim Meko   09/03/22  
Like an unhinged seesaw, this summer’s rainfall has teetered between too much and too little across the United States. Record-high rainfall in pockets of the country brought unprecedented flooding; meanwhile, other communities yearned for just…

California is throwing some shade at its water crisis

By Alex Fitzpatrick   09/01/22  
An innovative plan to conserve water by covering aqueducts with solar panels is about to undergo testing in drought-stricken California. Why it matters: Water is becoming more precious by the day in the Golden State…

The Fight Over The Colorado River’s Water Is A Symbol Of The Larger Climate Crisis

By Alejandro De La Garza   08/29/22  
There’s something familiar about the high stakes water use drama playing out in the U.S. Southwest. The mighty Colorado River serves as an economic artery of the region, powering massive hydroelectric dams and supplying water…

Climate Change is Making Wildfires Worse — Here’s How

By Andrew Moore   08/29/22  
Over the course of nearly three months in 2020, the August Complex Fire, fueled by extreme heat and severe drought conditions, burned more than a million acres across Northern California, destroying hundreds of buildings and…

Historic drought reveals dinosaur tracks in Texas riverbed

Volunteers were able to map the imprints of new dinosaur tracks revealed by a historic drought at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas.

As Colorado River Dries, the U.S. Teeters on the Brink of Larger Water Crisis

By Abrahm Lustgarten   08/25/22  
The western United States is, famously, in the grips of its worst megadrought in a millennium. The Colorado River, which supplies water to more than 40 million Americans and supports food production for the rest…

Record rain is hitting drought-stricken areas. That’s not good news.

By Matthew Cappucci and Others   08/25/22  
On Monday morning, the Dallas-Fort Worth area awoke to disaster. Rain was pouring down at the rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour. Highways became lethal lagoons, brooks became basins, and thousands of people…

Most of the U.S. Is Being Pummeled by Drought

By Artem Golub and Others   08/23/22  
This place is dustier than your ex-boyfriend who didn’t have a job.

Five 1,000-year rain events have struck the U.S. in five weeks. Why?

By Matthew Cappucci   08/23/22  
Five weeks. Five instances of 1,000-year rain events. If it seems like the weather across the Lower 48 as of late has been bonkers, you’re not imagining things. It’s been a maelstrom of weather extremes,…

‘Severe’ drought designation expanded in NY and parts of northern NJ

By Gwynne Hogan   08/18/22  
Severe drought conditions in New York and New Jersey persist this week and have expanded into parts of the South Shore of Long Island, Dutchess and Putnam counties, and northern New Jersey, according to the…

The Colorado River drought is so bad you can see it from space

By Umair Irfan   08/17/22  
More water cuts are coming as the nation’s largest reservoirs continue to dry up in the worst drought in 1,200 years.

Rio Grande Runs Dry, Then Wet

In the last week of July 2022, a 5-mile stretch of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ran dry for the first time in 40 years. Farther downstream, 12 miles of the river near…

A New Round of Colorado River Cuts Is Announced

By Henry Fountain   08/16/22  
With water levels in the Colorado River near their lowest point ever, Arizona and Nevada on Tuesday faced new restrictions on the amount of water they can pump out of the river, the most important…

U.S. announces more water cuts as Colorado River hits dire lows

By Joshua Partlow and Others   08/16/22  
As the historic drought in the U.S. Southwest pushes the nation’s largest reservoirs to record lows, the Biden administration Tuesday announced that water shortages along the Colorado River had passed a threshold for the first…

Today’s Headlines: Negotiations have yet to produce a deal for the shrinking Colorado River

By Elvia Limon   08/14/22  
Two months ago, federal officials told seven states that depend on Colorado River water to prepare for emergency cuts next year to prevent reservoirs from dropping to dangerously low levels. The states and managers of…

With California expected to lose 10% of its water within 20 years, Newsom calls for urgent action

By Ian James   08/11/22  
With California enduring historic drought amplified by global warming, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday released a new plan to adapt to the state’s hotter, drier future by capturing and storing more water, recycling more wastewater…

As Drought Hits Farms, Investors Lay Claim to Colorado Water

By Jennifer Oldham   08/10/22  
Michael Jones ducked under an idle sprinkler and strode across the sandy soil where he planned to plant drought-resistant crops, hoping to save water amid the driest period in more than 1,200 years. For the…

State refuses request for more water in communities with high wildfire risk

By Alex Wigglesworth   08/09/22  
State officials have denied a request by Southern California municipal water districts for more water to mitigate wildfire risk. The agencies had worked with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to ask the California…

Due to climate change, Nevada says goodbye to grass

By John D'Amelio   08/07/22  
In Las Vegas, Nevada, it's come to this: climate change has helped make water ever more scarce, so under a new Nevada law, the grass has got to go. "When we look at outdoor water…

Saltwater toilets, desperate wildlife: Water-starved Catalina Island battles against drought

By Hayley Smith   08/05/22  
Island-dweller Lori Snell grimaced as she tallied her bill recently at the Avalon Laundry — nearly $50 for three large loads. “It’s always an adventure to live in Catalina,” said Snell, 64. “It’s a joy,…

These NASA images show the staggering impact of drought

By Victoria Masterson   08/02/22  
Images from space show water levels falling dramatically at Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir in the United States.

See How Far Water Levels in Lake Mead Have Fallen

By Winston Choi-Schagrin   07/22/22  
In 2000, Lake Mead was full of deep, midnight-blue water that flooded the banks of the rivers that fed it. But 20 years later, it has shrunken drastically. And its basins are lighter, too, almost…

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is drying out, threatening ecological, economic disaster

By Nathan Frandino   07/14/22  
Utah's Great Salt Lake dropped to its lowest recorded level this month amid a two-decade drought, a grim milestone as researchers and politicians point to grave threats to wildlife and people along its receding shores.

Shocking Photos Show Lake Mead’s Historically Low Water Levels

By Molly Taft   07/12/22  
Stranded boats, desiccated fish, and no water on cracked ground that once made a shoreline. That’s the new business-as-usual for Lake Mead, where the West’s punishing drought and chronic water overuse have combined to render…

June 2022: U.S. dominated by remarkable heat, dryness

June kicked off a very warm and dry start to meteorological summer for the U.S., according to experts from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

California deepens water cuts to cope with drought, hitting thousands of farms

By Ian James and Others   07/07/22  
California regulators have begun curtailing the water rights of many farms and irrigation districts along the Sacramento River, forcing growers to stop diverting water from the river and its tributaries.

What aridification, the ‘great drying,’ means to California and the West

By James Rainey   06/30/22  
Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, June 30. I’m state enterprise reporter Jim Rainey, checking in from the San Gabriel Valley.

Extreme heat and humidity kill thousands of cattle in Kansas

By Amy Cheng   06/16/22  
Thousands of cattle in Kansas have died in recent days due to high heat and humidity, dealing a blow to one of the country’s leading cattle production states as the industry grapples with extreme weather…