A drought is a period of drier-than-normal conditions that results in water-related problems. Precipitation (either rain or snow) falls in uneven patterns across the country.
The beginning of a drought is difficult to determine. Several weeks, months, or even years may pass before people know that a drought is occurring. The end of a drought can occur as gradually as it began. Dry periods can last for 10 years or more.
A period of below-normal rainfall does not necessarily result in drought conditions. Some rain returns to the air as water vapor when water evaporates from water surfaces and from moist soil.
Where in the Nation are droughts or very low flows occurring now? How can I see these sites on a map and get to the data?
To view the USGS streamflow information on drought go to Drought Watch.
Rainfall in any form will provide some drought relief. A good analogy might be how medicine and illness relate to each other.
Water levels in wells are constantly changing both in the short term and over the long term. Some wells even have a seasonal change. In the short term, water levels can be lowered just by pumping water out of the well for use.