Droughts are a part of climate, just like hurricanes, thunderstorms, and tornadoes. Unlike the other hazards that affect the state, droughts can impact large areas and last for months, or even years. A drought is defined as the lack of soil moisture over a period of time. This lack of moisture can be due to reduced precipitation, increased evaporation and/or transpiration, or higher temperatures. It can also be caused by a combination of all of these causes.
Numerous droughts stand out for having a significant impact in Kentucky due to the area affected and the duration of the droughts; the droughts of the early 1930’s, mid-1950’s and late 1990’s-early 2000’s. During these droughts, lack of rainfall caused streamflows along some of the major river systems across the state to be the lowest on record, causing water resource shortages and loss of agricultural crops. Examine the precipitation chart on Slide 14 to see if you can find these droughts reflected in the data.