New York is the No. 3 least drought-ridden state

Weather

In this photo released by Nantou County Government, a boat is stranded on a dried lakebed in Sun Moon Lake in Nantou county in central Taiwan on April 23, 2021. Some households in Taiwan are going without running water two days a week after a months-long drought dried up the island’s reservoirs and a popular tourist lake. (Nantou County Government via AP)

NEW YORK STATE (STACKER) — Nearly one-third of Americans experienced a weather disaster this summer, giving them first-hand experience into a future of extreme hurricanes, wildfires, storms, and floods caused by global climate change. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA both show rapid warming in the 21st century, with the past decade being the hottest on record. According to The Washington Post, the cost of responding to these weather disasters is more than $81 billion per year.

Among those disasters were several significant, costly, and deadly droughts. Droughts are among the most destructive forces in nature—only hurricanes are more economically damaging to the U.S. Destroyed crops ripple through the economy, with animal feed prices increasing, which can indirectly raise the price of meats and animal products like milk and cheese. The annual losses due to drought are near $9 billion per year. Droughts also contribute to wildfires, increasing the likelihood of ignition and making them more extreme when they do happen.

Stacker ranked each state and Washington D.C., based on the average percentage of the state land that experienced drought conditions in the 20-year period from 2000 to March 2021, using data from the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM). The USDM categories drought conditions using a five-point scale ranging from “abnormally dry,” indicating some short-term crop dryness or a lingering water deficit, to “exceptional drought,” a serious condition involving a water emergency that leads to widespread crop/pasture losses.

The entire national list, including descriptions of the conditions that led to or prevented drought in each state and the events leading up to the state’s change in drought status, can be found here.

Most drought-ridden states

  • 1. Arizona
    • Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 87,702 square miles (76.9% of land area); 4,867,057 people (76.1% of population)
  • 2. Nevada
    • Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 78,717 square miles (71.2% of land area); 1,942,485 people (71.9% of population)
  • 3. New Mexico
    • Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 84,806 square miles (69.8% of land area); 1,455,107 people (70.7% of population)

Least drought-ridden states

  • 1. Ohio
    • Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 6,631 square miles (16.1% of land area); 1,815,050 people (15.7% of population)
  • 2. Alaska
    • Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 95,420 square miles (16.4% of land area); 159,582 people (23.2% of population)
  • 3. New York
    • Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 8,721 square miles (18.0% of land area); 4,174,482 people (21.5% of population)

New York by the numbers

  • Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 8,721 square miles (18.0% of land area); 4,174,482 people (21.5% of population)
    • Moderate drought: 2,294 square miles (4.7% of land area); 1,802,762 people (9.3% of population)
    • Severe drought: 477 square miles (1.0% of land area); 501,351 people (2.6% of population)
    • Extreme drought: 43 square miles (0.1% of land area); 49,983 people (0.3% of population)

Much of upstate New York is facing abnormally dry or drought conditions. Places like Syracuse and Jefferson and Lewis counties went into the summer of 2020 well below their average precipitation levels, and the area hasn’t seen significant improvement since.

Vermont by the numbers

  • Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 1,970 square miles (20.4% of land area); 125,413 people (20.0% of population)
    • Moderate drought: 624 square miles (6.5% of land area); 39,182 people (6.3% of population)
    • Severe drought: 51 square miles (0.5% of land area); 3,423 people (0.5% of population)

Vermont is the No. 7 least drought-ridden state. New York’s parched North Country region extends into Vermont, and weather conditions don’t recognize state borders. Severe drought conditions hit 29.39% of the state’s land in the week starting Sept. 29, 2020.

Massachusetts by the numbers

  • Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 1,990 square miles (24.5% of land area); 1,679,606 people (25.7% of population)
    • Moderate drought: 886 square miles (10.9% of land area); 750,271 people (11.5% of population)
    • Severe drought: 305 square miles (3.7% of land area); 255,969 people (3.9% of population)
    • Extreme drought: 69 square miles (0.8% of land area); 76,025 people (1.2% of population)

Clocking in at No. 14, the Bay State. Even though Massachusetts is no longer facing drought conditions, the state is still asking residents to watch their water consumption. Prior to precipitation in November 2020, Massachusetts had been facing extreme drought conditions last year.

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