Understanding impacts can help decision-makers at all levels reduce vulnerability to drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a well-established system for tracking drought impacts on agricultural production. Other drought impacts, such as psychological stress, illness due to reduced air quality, water quality concerns, and loss of wildlife habitat, are harder to track. Nonetheless, most drought planning processes recommend working with stakeholders from each sector that is affected by drought to identify and monitor impacts. Understanding impacts can help individuals and communities take steps to reduce long-term vulnerability.
One way to track drought impacts is the U.S. Drought Impact Reporter, an online, nationwide archive of drought impacts, launched in 2005 by the National Drought Mitigation Center, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Integrated Drought Information System. Impacts are accessible either via either a map or a search interface. The Drought Impact Reporter categorizes impact by sectors, including Agriculture, Water Supply and Quality, Fire, Energy, Tourism and Recreation, Other Business and Industry, Plants and Wildlife (environment), and Relief, Response and Restrictions (official actions). Information in the Drought Impact Reporter comes from media reports, agency reports, the CoCoRaHS observation network, and individual observers around the country.