Drought Hazard Overview

Defining Drought, Drought Response and Drought Mitigation

There is not a single definition of drought to succinctly describe the progressive nature of drought development. Most often drought is defined by a combination of several definitions for increasing drought severity that are based on meteorological, agricultural, hydrological and socioeconomic effects, as outlined below.

Meteorological Drought – Meteorological measurements are generally the first indicators of drought development. This category of drought is often defined by a period of precipitation deficit that is outside of a “normal” range over a defined period of time.

Agricultural Drought – Agricultural drought occurs when there is not enough soil moisture to meet the needs of a particular crop at a particular time. Agricultural drought develops at some point after meteorological drought and is identified by linking the characteristics of a meteorological drought to agricultural impacts. .

Hydrological Drought – Hydrological drought refers to the deficiencies in surface and subsurface water supplies. It is measured as streamflow and as lake, reservoir and groundwater levels. There is a time lag between lack of rain and diminished quantities of water in streams, rivers, reservoirs and aquifers. .

Socioeconomic Drought – Socioeconomic drought occurs when physical water shortage begins to affect people, individually or collectively. This category of drought is manifested by adverse impacts to the health, well-being and quality of life of the people, or when drought begins to affect the supply and demand of an economic product.


Link to Kentucky State Drought Mitigation and Response plan, chapter 7. http://water.ky.gov/wa/Documents/State%20Plan_Final.pdf

Link to the State hazard Mitigation Plan – Drought Risk Assessment for complete information and maps.


Planning for Drought

The Planning for Drought Resilience Fact Sheet describes how mitigation planning is integrated with drought resilience, and how FEMA’s work in mitigation planning supports the 2016 Memorandum and Federal Action Plan on Building Capabilities for Long-Term Drought Resilience.