Current drought conditions are synthesized from a range of drought impact indicators, including precipitation over several periods of time and impacts to water supply as measured by streamflow, reservoirs, and groundwater levels, impacts to agriculture and forest health, and impacts to utilities. More information on the conditions in each of these sectors is available under the "Current Conditions" section at http://www.ncdrought.org.
Drought is a part of North Carolina's climate - just like floods, hurricanes, and other severe weather. Unlike other weather hazards, drought can affect large regions of the eastern United States at once, and last from weeks to years.
Drought is defined as a deficit in normal precipitation for a region over a period of time sufficient to cause impacts. Impacts are important - without the abnormal impacts to sectors such as water supply, agriculture, and/or fire danger, there is no drought, only dry weather. And so impacts to these and other sectors is a primary way for measuring drought severity.
A comprehensive resource on the concept of drought and how it is defined is available from the National Drought Mitigation Center.
North Carolina has an active community of drought monitors through the Drought Management Advisory Council, which meets weekly during times of drought to evaluate conditions and make recommendations on the depiction of drought severity as part of the US Drought Monitor. More information is available at http://www.ncdrought.org
Widespread precipitation and temperature observations began in North Carolina in the late 1800s, and with these we can estimate values for several measures of drought severity. For more information on the different ways of measuring drought severity, see the "Monitoring Drought" section at the National Drought Mitigation Center's site.
Since drought impacts NC on different time and geographic scales, it is very difficult to compare one drought event to another. One useful way of looking at drought is to use spatially averaged indices at the climate division and statewide scales. A chart presenting the statewide average of a few drought indices since 1895 is presented below.
To access climate division data for North Carolina, click here.
North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council
The DMAC maintains a watchful eye on drought conditions in North Carolina
Weekly U.S. Drought Monitor
The Drought Monitor is a synthesis of multiple indices, outlooks and news accounts, that represents a consensus of federal and academic scientists.
USGS Drought Information for North Carolina
The US Geological Survey maintains streamflow and well sensors in NC.
Seasonal Drought Outlook
During the last week of the month, CPC issues a seasonal drought assessment.
Climate Monitoring Group from NCDC
Monthly climate reports on previous months that include specific information on indices and conditions as well as outlooks for coming months.
Soil Moisture Information from CPC
A series of maps showing most recent day, monthly and 12 months calculated soil moisture, anomalies and percentiles.