North Carolina
Drought Management Advisory Council

Education

What are the types of drought?



Meteorological Drought

Meteorological drought is usually based on precipitation's departure from normal over some period of time. These definitions are usually region-specific, and presumably based on a thorough understanding of regional climatology. Normally, meteorological measurements are the first indicators of drought.

Agricultural Drought

Agricultural drought occurs when there isn't enough soil moisture to meet the needs of a particular crop at a particular time. Agricultural drought is typically evident after meteorological drought but before a hydrological drought.

Hydrological Drought

Hydrological drought refers to deficiencies in surface and subsurface water supplies. It is measured as streamflow, and as lake, reservoir, and ground water levels. There is a time lag between lack of rain or snow and less water in streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, so hydrological measurements are not the earliest indicators of drought. When precipitation is reduced or deficient for a long time, this storage is reflected in declining surface and subsurface water levels.

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