Drought Facts



  • A drought is a long period when there is too little rain.
  • During a drought the soil dries out, groundwater sinks, streams stop flowing and plants die.
  • Deserts suffer from permanent drought. Many tropical places have a seasonal drought, with ongoing dry seasons.
  • Droughts are often accompanied by high temperatures, which increase water loss through evaporation.
  • Between 1931 and 1938 drought reduced the Great Plains of the USA to a dustbowl, as the soil dried out and turned to dust. Drought came again from 1950 to 1954.
  • Desertification is the spread of desert conditions into surrounding grassland. It is caused either by climate changes or by pressure from human activities.
  • Drought, combined with increased numbers of livestock and people, have put pressure on the Sahel, south of the Sahara in Africa, causing widespread desertification.
  • Drought has brought repeated famine to the Sahel, especially the Sudan and Ethiopia.
  • Drought in the Sahel may be partly triggered off by El Nino — a reversal of the ocean currents in the Pacific Ocean, off Peru, which happens every 2-7 years.
  • The Great Drought of 1276-99 destroyed the cities of the ancient Indian civilizations of southwest USA. It led to the cities being abandoned.