Reasons to Prepare

When droughts happen, they can have disastrous and far-reaching consequences referred to as drought impacts.  In fact, droughts are the second costliest natural disaster in the U.S. with each event costing the economy nearly $10 billion dollars in agricultural losses alone.


The Cost of Drought

Summary statistics for U.S. weather and climate disasters from 1980 to 2019 according NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information*.

Disaster Type

Number of Events


Average Event Cost


Tropical Cyclone 42 934.6 23.3 6487
Drought 266 248.4 9.6 2993
Severe Storm 109 328.8 2.2 1632
Flooding 31 126 4.3 554
Wildfire 16 80.4 5 344
Winter Storm 17 49.2 2.9 1048
Freeze 9 30.4 3.4 162
All Disasters 250 1707.8 6.9 13220
*Data valid through July 9, 2019. Statistics not included for the Midwest (March 2019) and Southern Plains flooding. For the most up-to-date numbers see:
Costs have been adjusted by the Consumer Price Index.
Drought statistics are calculated differently than other disasters. Losses are based on crop insurance payouts and supplemental livestock feeding costs. Deaths are the result of heat waves which frequently accompany droughts.


While agricultural losses are typically widely publicized during a drought, impacts can and do occur across a variety of sectors. 



Drought impacts vary by location, business type or stakeholder group, and the effectiveness of the risk management practices adopted. These variations create winners and losers, making it difficult to classify any given impact as distinctly negative or positive. For example, increased water demand may lead to water restrictions and price hikes for residential users, but result in increased revenue for utility companies and well drilling businesses. Similarly, reduced crop yields can cause reduced farm income and job losses for a drought affected area, but benefit producers unaffected by drought through increased prices.



By taking action to prepare your community for drought, you can help ensure that your community’s critical water needs are met, lessen negative impacts, increase the efficiency of response actions, and reduce reliance on financial assistance.


Prepare for Impacts

Scenario-based exercises offer opportunities to address and plan for drought impacts before they happen. Here's how:

How to prepare for impacts. Step 1 (Exercise Activities): Identify who and what may be effected, brainstorm strategies to lessen impacts, weigh the pros and cons. Step 2: Drought Planning Process. Step 3: Preparedness Plan.


Explore Your Region's Drought Impacts

Visit the Drought Impacts Toolkit

Continue Drought Planning

Plan Your Scenario