83rd Annual

Monday, 10 February 2003: 4:00 PM
The 2002 Drought in the United States:Lessons Learned and Future Challenges
Donald A. Wilhite, National Drought Mitigation Center, Lincoln, NE
Drought is a normal part of climate for virtually all parts of the United States. Since 1995, severe drought has affected most areas of the country and resulted in serious economic, social, and environmental impacts. For many locations, last year=s drought was not a single year event. In many cases, the 2002 drought was one more in a series of significant drought events that have resulted in serious impacts and heightened interest in pursuing new directions in drought and water management. In terms of its spatial extent, the 2002 drought affected over 40% of the nation with severe to extreme conditions, comparable to the 1988 drought.

Considered by some to be a more serious problem in the West, recent drought years have affected large portions of the eastern United States as well and illustrated the vulnerability of all regions to this slow-onset, insidious natural hazard. Have we emerged from the drought of 2002 with an awareness of the need for a greater emphasis on risk-based drought management and a new appreciation of our nation=s growing vulnerability to severe drought episodes? This paper will review the climatology of the 2002 drought, the complexity of impacts that occurred, and trends in policy and planning that may be the legacy of this drought.

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