Sunday Story: Different Droughts

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We’re finally getting some rain around the area. It’s not enough to stamp out this drought, but it sure doesn’t hurt! I’ve picked up a quarter of an inch here in Rinnie and am hoping for some more.

Speaking of drought, that’s the topic of today’s Sunday Story! I hope you enjoy!

A Variety of Droughts

The latest drought maps show much of Tennessee has now entered official drought conditions. It’s hard to believe that last September was our wettest September on record. A lot can change in a year!

Of all weather events, drought is the second most damaging. The first is hurricanes. It’s interesting that the two most damaging weather events focus on water, with one having far too much and the other having far too little. 

Since there are more than 100 definitions for drought, NOAA has broken drought down into four categories: meteorological, hydrological, agricultural, and socioeconomic. The first three deal with the physical aspects of drought, while the fourth one deals with a supply-demand problem with water.  

Agricultural droughts account for the water needed for crops. A springtime drought can be devastating to farmers, occurring just when crops need water the most. Thankfully, droughts in the fall aren’t nearly as devastating to agriculture, as most crops have been harvested by now. Agriculture droughts can be so destructive that farmers may lose their whole farms because of it, even farms that have been in the family for generations.

Hydrological droughts deal with the lower volume of water in streams. This can wreck whole aquatic ecosystems.

Socioeconomic droughts seem to be most prevalent in or near desert regions, especially where irrigation practices are necessary to grow food. As population and water demands rise, socioeconomic droughts will only worsen.

The drought we’re experiencing right now in Tennessee is a meteorological drought, where rainfall has dropped below the average that we would expect for our area at this time of year. A decrease in precipitation, compared to the historic average, creates a meteorological drought. 

Long-range outlooks offer a disturbing forecast of drought conditions continuing through the end of the year. Let’s hope that doesn’t come true.   

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