What exactly is the definition of a drought?

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,
I’ve heard you say that Chicago is in a developing drought. What exactly is the definition of a drought?
—Shane R. Elgin
Dear Shane,
Because climates vary greatly from one region to another, drought also varies from location to location, and a single definition is not appropriate. In general, drought is extreme dryness due to a lack of precipitation over periods extensive in area and time. There are 3 kinds of drought. Permanent drought occurs when the climate of a region almost always provides insufficient water, which is experienced in desert regions. Seasonal drought occurs when the climate includes a long-dry period during part of the year, such as coastal southern California (dry summer, rainy winter) or Florida (dry winter, rainy summer). Sporadic drought occurs due to precipitation variability, such as is currently happening in Chicago.

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