The 2001 Drought


13 August, 2001

Drought has again visited Vermont, bringing with it record maximum temperatures very much reminiscent of the 1998-1999 event. However, the face of drought across the state is somewhat different from the last episode both in terms of the spatial distribution of the precipitation shortfalls, as well as the timing of these shortfalls. The ongoing drought displayed a much more rapid onset than that of 1998-1999, becoming markedly evident as July 2001 drew to a close. The rapidity of this year’s drought onset has led to climatologists exploring the concept of a flash drought, in a similar fashion to the speed with which flash floods develop. Another key difference between the 2001 drought and its predecessor is the area affected. This spans across northern New York state, northern Vermont and into parts of Maine.

Two of the more commonly used indices for determining the severity of a drought are the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and the Standardized Precipitation Index. Together, these indices yield the following character of the ongoing drought:

For more information on the recent drought and methods by which to track drought conditions, see the: