Map: US struggles through five years of drought

by @hash_said March 24, 2014 4:28PM ET Updated July 9, 2015 7:14PM ET

In this interactive map, see how the drought has spread across a majority of the nation

Drought USA
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The United States is approaching its fifth year of constant drought, and so far, there are no signs that the dry times are coming to an end.

The drought picked up in late 2010, with noticeable effects beginning that October. By the end of December 2010, the drought had crept across much of the South, particularly in Florida, Louisiana and Texas.

In October 2011, the drought was in full swing, taking a toll on much of Oklahoma and Texas, the latter of which experienced its driest 12 consecutive months on record between October 2010 to September 2011. At the time, almost 100 percent of Texas was listed as experiencing "severe" drought conditions.

With many parts of Texas still struggling for precipitation by early 2012, the drought had largely moved on, creeping towards the West, High Plains and the Midwest. By the end of August 2012, more than 60 percent of the U.S. was suffering from drought.

In early 2013, the drought was affecting more than 90 percent of the High Plains and over 60 percent of the West. By the end of the year, the drought began to manifest in parts of California and Nevada.

By mid-March of 2014, almost all of California was experiencing drought conditions, with much of the fertile California Valley the hardest hit.

As of July 2015, the drought is almost exclusive to the West, with nearly 50 percent of California experiencing "exceptional" drought.

Click through the maps below to see the drought as it spread across the U.S.

Source: National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Map and Data Viewer


  • The 2011 Texan fire season began Nov. 15, 2010 and lasted through Oct. 31, 2011. During that time, there were more than 31,000 fires that destroyed over 4 million acres and nearly 3,000 homes.
  • From November 2010 to August 2011, the drought cost Texas an estimated $5.2 billion in crop and livestock losses. 
  • By Oct. 4, 2011, 88 percent of Texas was listed under "exceptional" drought — the most severe rating possible. About 97 percent of Texas was rated as "extreme."
  • The entirety of Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska was under "severe" drought by mid-2012, while Arkansas and Oklahoma were almost completely immersed in drought.
  • The 2013-2014 winter is the third driest on record for Arizona, California and New Mexico.
  • According to one study, California is experiencing its worst drought in over 1,200 years.