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Drought Monitoring Task Force

The Drought Monitoring Task Force is an interagency group of technical representatives from state and federal agencies responsible for monitoring natural resource conditions and the effects of drought on various segments of society.  The Task Force meets to assess conditions and make recommendations regarding drought status.  The Task Force periodically releases Drought Status Reports summarizing drought conditions in the Commonwealth.

 Latest Drought Status Report 



The Drought Monitoring Task Force evaluates all available drought information when considering recommendations for drought stage declarations, including the following:

U.S. Drought Monitor

The Drought Monitor provides a weekly overview of where in the United States drought is emerging, lingering, subsiding or forecast. The Monitor is produced jointly by the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The three-way partnership is responding to the need for accurate, centralized drought information by developing a map that summarizes information from numerous drought indices and indicators on a single, easy-to-read color map.

A Drought Monitor map specific to the Southeast is also available.


United States Geological Survey (USGS) - Ground Water Climate Response Network

The USGS maintains a network of wells to monitor the effects of droughts and other climate variability on ground-water levels. Nationally, the climate response network consists of about 140 wells monitored as part of the Ground-Water Resources Program, supplemented by wells in some States monitored as part of the Cooperative Water Program.

Virginia currently has 20 wells monitored in real-time as part of the Virginia Climate Response Network through a partnership between the USGS and Virginia DEQ.  Observation wells in this network have a period of record of at least ten years of daily groundwater level observations and are designed to monitor the response of the shallow groundwater flow system to climatic changes.


United States Geological Survey - Waterwatch

The USGS also publishes a nationwide map and maps for each state that depict real-time streamflow conditions as computed at surface water gaging stations across the country. The maps on the USGS WaterWatch webpage present real-time streamflow for each station compared to percentiles of historical daily streamflow for the day of the year.  The WaterWatch webpage also contains links to other maps that display Drought-related (low-flow) conditions.

Virginia WaterWatch webpage

University of Virginia Climatology Office

Precipitation Deficits:

The Virginia State Climatology Office produces precipitation deficits by comparing current precipitation amounts with historical precipitation values as a percent of normal long-term average values.  Comparisons are made for each drought evaluation region.  Normal long-term average precipitation is defined as the mean precipitation for a thirty-year period of record for the area and time period being evaluated.

Precipitation amounts are evaluated based on the water year (beginning October 1).  Water years are natural dividing points for water supply drought as precipitation that falls in the first six months of a water year is analogous to putting money in the bank.  Precipitation that occurs during this six month period has the potential to recharge ground water, which will sustain stream flows and support withdrawals from wells during the following six month period when moisture deficits naturally develop as evaporation and plant transpiration generally exceed precipitation.

National Weather Service - NOAA

The National Weather Service (NWS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) produces a series of webpages as part of its Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS).  These webpages provide information on observed precipitation, river flows and air quality, as well as precipitation and stream flow forecasts.  The NWS radar-generated precipitation data are used by DEQ to represent current observations in the determination of precipitation deficits as drought indicators.  Current and recent precipitation data for the Commonwealth of Virginia can be examined on the NWS Virginia AHPS page.

The NWS also produces short-term and seasonal forecasts of temperature, precipitation and drought patterns.


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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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