Media Kit

About the USDM

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is a map released every Thursday that shows the severity and location of drought conditions across the U.S. and its territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The map uses six classifications.

Category None D0 D1 D2 D3 D4
Description Normal or wet conditions Abnormally Dry Moderate Drought Severe Drought Extreme Drought Exceptional Drought

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. The NDMC hosts the USDM website and provides the map, data and statistics to the public in English and Spanish.

A related product, the North American Drought Monitor is released monthly in collaboration with partners in Mexico and Canada to show drought conditions across the continent.

Fast Facts

The U.S. Drought Monitor is made with more than precipitation data.
When you think about drought, you probably think about water, or the lack of it. Precipitation plays a major role in the creation of the drought monitor, but the map’s author considers numerous indicators, including drought impacts and local insight from over 450 expert observers around the country. Authors use several dozen indicators to assess drought, including precipitation, streamflow, reservoir levels, temperature and evaporative demand, soil moisture and vegetation health. Because the drought monitor depicts both short and long-term drought conditions, the authors must look at data for multiple timeframes. The final map produced each week represents a summary of the story being told by all the pieces of data. To help tell that story, authors don’t just look at data - they converse over the course of the map-making week with experts located across the country and draw information about drought impacts from media reports and private citizens.
A real person, using real data, makes the USDM.
Each week’s map analyzes new data for the weekly update. The map authors are climatologists or meteorologists from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (the academic partner and web host of the USDM), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The author’s job is to do something that a computer can’t. When the data is pointing in different directions, they make sense out of it.
The USDM is a current snapshot, not a forecast.
The USDM is a “snapshot” of current drought conditions. Each map is an update of the one before. The map comes out on Thursday, and shows what happened up through Tuesday morning. Precipitation that falls on Wednesday won’t change the next day’s map, but it might change the next week’s map. This gives the author at least two days to look at all the data and make a final map.
Drought declarations may or may not be based on the USDM.
Many agencies and organizations look at the USDM, but drought declarations only come from federal, state and local agencies. Some of them look at the USDM to declare drought, but some look at other indicators as well. USDA uses the USDM to determine a producer’s eligibility for certain drought assistance programs, like the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and Emergency Haying or Grazing on CRP acres and to “fast-track” Secretarial drought disaster designations.
The public can be part of the drought-monitoring process.
The USDM triggers federal disaster relief for agricultural producers. Sometimes farmers and ranchers call, email or better yet use the online reporting system to say drought in their area is worse than what the latest map shows. When the author gets a report like that, they work with the local experts to look closely at all available data for that area, to see whether measurements such as rain and temperature agree with what farmers and ranchers are saying. This is the process that authors follow whether they get one report or one hundred reports. Reports from more places during drought may help state officials and others know where to look for impacts.

Learn more about the process of developing the USDM and the science behind it on the What is the USDM? and Drought Classification pages of this website. Access more information about the NDMC, the USDM and related tools in our database of factsheets.


Key Features of the USDM Site

Maps

Maps

Access current and historic USDM maps at different spatial scales. You can also overlay the map with other information, see how conditions have changed, download animated GIFs and export customized visuals. Raw GIS data is available to build your own map.

Graphs and Statistics

Graphs and Statistics

Use graphs, time series and data tables to neatly convey information about drought coverage and severity, going back to the start of the USDM in 2000. Statistics are available for the extent of drought, and population affected, in each USDM category.

Drought Indicators and Outlooks

Drought Indicators and Outlooks

Explore the datasets for current climate conditions and inputs that are used by the USDM authors to create the map each week. You can also examine the suite of forecasts and drought outlooks developed by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

Summaries

Summaries

Consult the weekly USDM summary to get more context and detail for each week’s maps. The summary provides an overview of conditions broken down by region, recent weather highlights and a snapshot of the upcoming forecast.

Drought Impacts

Drought Impacts

Check out the Drought Impacts Toolkit to track news stories, tweets and citizen science observations of drought’s effects on people, agriculture and the environment. You can also view historic impacts by state, sector or drought severity.

Educational Materials

Educational Materials

Visit the About section of our website to learn more and access in-depth tutorials on how to use the USDM.

Website Statistics

When people want to find out about drought, they turn to the USDM. In 2022, the website received 13.9 million page views and hosted 3.6 million users.


Social Media

The USDM is released on Thursdays at 8:30 AM ET. Throughout the day, and the week following, the NDMC and our partners spread the word on social media, sharing maps, highlights and related products. Follow these accounts to join the conversation.

National Drought Mitigation Center

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Share Information

The USDM website makes it easy to share information about drought conditions that your audience cares about.

Use #drought to join a larger conversation that includes climatologists, agricultural producers, researchers and many more.

Download Logos


Inquiries

For more information or to get in touch, visit the Contact Us page of this website.

Authorship of the USDM each week rotates among individuals affiliated with the NDMC, USDA and NOAA. For questions about this week’s map, please contact the specific author.

United States & Puerto Rico

Brian Fuchs
National Drought Mitigation Center
bfuchs2@unl.edu
(402) 472-6775

Pacific Islands & Virgin Islands

Lindsay Johnson
National Drought Mitigation Center
ljohnson161@unl.edu
(402) 472-8068

For general questions about the Drought Monitor, drought impacts or the USDM website, please contact:

DroughtMonitor@unl.edu

U.S. Drought Monitor
National Drought Mitigation Center
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
P.O. Box 830988
Lincoln, NE 68583-0988
402-472-6707
402-472-2946