A Survey of Impacts Resulting from the Drought of 2007 in Kentucky

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Crystal J. Bergman, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE

Handout (709.5 kB)

Drought is a well-known and costly climate-related natural hazard. Unlike other climate-related natural hazards, droughts are usually long in duration and may cover a large region, the physical boundaries of areas affected by drought are sometimes vague, and the impacts are often difficult to identify. Climate records since 1895 show that drought has occurred periodically in Kentucky. The drought of 2007 was the most recent drought to affect Kentucky. The purpose of this research is to identify impacts of drought and potential vulnerabilities to various drought impact sectors in Kentucky so that policymakers can develop a drought plan that addresses these vulnerabilities and emphasizes mitigation efforts.

Impacts caused by the drought of 2007 were identified mostly through news reports. A sample of news articles was collected from Kentucky newspapers from 30 May 30 September 2007. News articles were archived and documented in a spreadsheet according to the title of the news article, the origin of the news article, the date of publication, the location or region of interest, the impacts that were reported, the types of impacts that occurred, and key words. Using the National Drought Mitigation Center's impact classification system, each reported impact was classified as an economic impact, an environmental impact, or a social impact. An analysis of the frequency of reported impacts determined the drought impacts that would be further analyzed in the study.

It was found that the drought of 2007 impacted agriculture, water supplies, recreation and tourism, the occurrence of wildland fires, plant and animal species, and small businesses. Impacts on agriculture were most frequently documented, but the other aforementioned impacts were not well documented. The documentation of drought impacts that occur in Kentucky should be improved. It is recommended that drought impact studies are implemented to determine how each of the above impact areas is vulnerable to drought. Policymakers can then use this information to determine the best practices that would reduce Kentucky's vulnerability to drought.