Wake County Hazard Mitigation Plan - January 2020


4.5.2 Drought

Hazard Background Drought is a deficiency in precipitation over an extended period. It is a normal, recurrent feature of climate that occurs in virtually all climate zones. The duration of a drought varies widely. There are cases when drought develops relatively quickly and lasts a very short period of time, exacerbated by extreme heat and/or wind, and there are other cases when drought spans multiple years, or even decades. Studying the paleoclimate record is often helpful in identifying when long-lasting droughts have occurred. Common types of drought are detailed below in Table 4.16. Table 4.16 – Types of Drought



Meteorological Drought is based on the degree of dryness (rainfall deficit) and the length of the dry period. Agricultural Drought is based on the impacts to agriculture by factors such as rainfall deficits, soil water deficits, reduced ground water, or reservoir levels needed for irrigation. Hydrological Drought is based on the impact of rainfall deficits on the water supply such as stream flow, reservoir and lake levels, and ground water table decline. Socioeconomic drought is based on the impact of drought conditions (meteorological, agricultural, or hydrological drought) on supply and demand of some economic goods. Socioeconomic drought occurs when the demand for an economic good exceeds supply as a result of a weather-related deficit in water supply.

Meteorological Drought

Agricultural Drought

Hydrological Drought

Socioeconomic Drought

The wide variety of disciplines affected by drought, its diverse geographical and temporal distribution, and the many scales drought operates on make it difficult to develop both a definition to describe drought and an index to measure it. Many quantitative measures of drought have been developed in the United States, depending on the discipline affected, the region being considered, and the particular application. Several indices developed by Wayne Palmer, as well as the Standardized Precipitation Index, are useful for describing the many scales of drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor provides a summary of drought conditions across the United States and Puerto Rico. Often described as a blend of art and science, the Drought Monitor map is updated weekly by combining a variety of data-based drought indices and indicators and local expert input into a single composite drought indicator. The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) devised in 1965, was the first drought indicator to assess moisture status comprehensively. It uses temperature and precipitation data to calculate water supply and demand, incorporates soil moisture, and is considered most effective for unirrigated cropland. It primarily reflects long-term drought and has been used extensively to initiate drought relief. It is more complex than the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and the Drought Monitor. The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) is a way of measuring drought that is different from the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). Like the PDSI, this index is negative for drought, and positive for wet conditions. But the SPI is a probability index that considers only precipitation, while Palmer's indices are water balance indices that consider water supply (precipitation), demand (evapotranspiration) and loss (runoff). The State of North Carolina has a Drought Assessment and Response Plan as an Annex to its Emergency Operations Plan. This plan provides the framework to coordinate statewide response to a drought incident.

Wake County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan 2019


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