animal skull laying on the ground with a cityscape in the far background

Drought is what happens when rainfall is lower than normal for a long time. Droughts can last a single season, a whole year, or for many years and can affect a few hundred or millions of square miles.

Drought affects communities differently depending on

  • Who lives in the community, because some people are more affected by drought than others based on things like health conditions and age
  • What kind of water system the community has
  • What rules the community has about water use
  • Other economic and social factors

Severe drought can also affect air quality by making wildfires and dust storms more likely. Smoke from wildfires and particle pollution from dust storms can make anyone sick, but some people are at higher risk.

Page last reviewed: January 24, 2020