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States with the worst droughts

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States with the worst droughts

The 21st century gave the United States a dose of what the future of climate change has in store. “All of the years on record that were hotter or more disaster-filled came in the past decade,” according to Climate Central. It refers to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA climate reports that show the hottest 10 years on record occurred between 1998 and 2018, as did the years with record numbers of $1 billion-plus weather- and climate-related disasters. Among those disasters were several significant, costly, and deadly droughts.

Currently, however, the country is enjoying a reprieve. According to the Weather Channel, drought coverage in the continental United States is at an all-time low for the 21st century, meaning less of the country is experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions than at any point since 2000. In fact, the wettest six-month period of any year came in 2018, and 2019 offered a multi-month run of top-10 wettest periods in many states. All that precipitation has eliminated lingering drought across much of America.

Using data from the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), Stacker ranked each state and Washington D.C., based on how much of the state experienced drought conditions on average from 2014 to 2018. Seasonal averages are shown for each state as well. The USDM, according to its website, “is a map that shows the location and intensity of drought across the country.” 

All told, 10 states exhibited a drought average of less than 20% throughout the five-year period, while the #1 state exhibits over an 86% average. The list also describes conditions that led to drought, or the lack thereof, in each state, as well as looks at what took place that led to each state's change in drought status over the course of the year.

You may also like:States with the highest risk of flooding

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Ritu Manoj Jethani // Shutterstock

#51. Delaware

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 9.35%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 21.51%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 2.13%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 4.93%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 8.86%

Delaware is currently free of drought, but it was abnormally dry across much of the state in 2018, with some areas experiencing moderate drought in 2017. That, however, was timid compared to the beginning of the century. Delaware spent 55 weeks gripped in drought starting in 2001, and by August 2002, nearly 75% of the state was struggling under exceptional drought conditions, the most severe category.

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#50. Ohio

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 9.82%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 1.98%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 4.36%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 15.75%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 16.67%

The last time Ohio faced drought conditions was in 2017. By October of that year, nearly 15% of the state was suffering from moderate drought.

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#49. Indiana

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 10.60%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 4.50%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 8.26%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 9.21%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 19.73%

Although Indiana is not currently experiencing drought, the state's energy sector is preparing for the effects of climate change, which is making winters warmer and summers hotter in Indiana, just as it is in the rest of the country. The state is moving toward clean-burning natural gas and renewable energy like solar and wind as it prepares for wild swings in precipitation, which will likely lead to flooding in the spring and drought in the winter.

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#48. West Virginia

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 10.61%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 5.19%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 11.58%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 6.82%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 18.25%

Although West Virginia is currently drought free, one of the worst droughts in the state's history is a vivid memory for many. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Drought of 1999, when all 55 counties were declared federal drought disaster areas and 30% of the state's rural well reserves had dried up.

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#47. Wisconsin

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 12.17%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 15.81%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 20.61%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 7.67%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 5.14%

On Sept. 3, 2018, the National Weather Service reported that enough rain had finally fallen to end the abnormally dry and drought conditions that had gripped much of Wisconsin. The state's dairy farmers, however, are suffering most from too much rain, which the Daily Cardinal reports is one of the negative weather patterns plaguing the state.

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Chichimaru // Shhutterstock

#46. Michigan

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 13.10%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 1.83%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 13.34%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 24.47%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 12.80%

A dry spell plagued much of Michigan throughout most of 2018, but the hardest-hit regions only experienced moderate drought through much of the summer. All that changed on Aug. 23, however, when eight Michigan counties were listed as suffering from extreme drought.

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#45. Kentucky

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 13.33%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 10.64%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 9.26%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 10.61%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 22.14%

Kentucky has plenty of water in 2019, but the state is experiencing a drought of a different kind. There's been a remarkable lack of severe weather in the storm-prone state for dozens of months. There hasn't been a severe thunderstorm warning in Lexington, for example, since August 2018, or a tornado warning since 2017.

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#44. Alaska

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 15.29%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 14.23%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 20.13%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 20.86%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 6.63%

By March 2019, all of southeastern Alaska was suffering from an extended drought. A dry, cold winter held back so much precipitation that the city of Ketchikan had to revert to diesel power while the lakes that supply hydropower refilled.

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#43. Illinois

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 16.83%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 24.61%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 10.83%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 12.91%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 18.83%

The first state on the list not locked in a tie is Illinois, which is not currently experiencing drought. It was last year, however, as a water shortage gripped much of the state in 2018. The event worried state residents and officials, who compared it to a drought in 2012 that cost Illinois $30 billion. Both year's dry spells occurred during a second-year La Niña weather pattern.

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Joseph Sohm // Shutterstock

#42. Maryland

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 18.83%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 31.32%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 14.94%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 7.02%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 21.82%

In February 2018, Maryland was coming off one of the driest Januarys on record. Just as it had the year before, drought had the state in such a tight grip that groundwater stores, streams, and ponds had run dry. The state finally got relief, however, and Maryland is now drought free.

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#41. Florida

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 22.03%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 28.22%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 27.05%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 12.52%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 20.46%

By January 2018, virtually the entire East had experienced heavy rains that quenched drought-stricken states across the region—all but Florida, that is. The Sunshine State, particularly the southern portion, missed out on the rains and was mired in severe drought. In fact, the only area east of the Mississippi experiencing a rainfall deficit at that point was the area south of Florida's Interstate 4 Corridor.

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CEW // Shutterstock

#40. Pennsylvania

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 22.21%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 27.74%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 19.95%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 16.44%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 24.52%

In 2017, President Trump withdrew U.S. support from the Paris Agreement climate treaty, rejecting the intent and standards of the agreement. In 2019, however, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to commit to the goals of the Paris treaty when it agreed to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, which leaders hope will reduce weather patterns like drought.

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#39. Iowa

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 22.70%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 31.97%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 23.82%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 23.01%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 12.74%

Although Nebraska was spared the pain of drought in 2018, neighboring Iowa was not so lucky—but that year, Iowa was actually a tale of two states. In July, many in central Iowa were grappling with historic flooding. At the same time, other counties were enduring the worst drought in 30 years.

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#38. Tennessee

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 23.00%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 24.10%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 24.68%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 19.33%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 23.83%

The longest drought in Tennessee in the 21st century lasted for 116 weeks between 2007 and 2009. During the most intense period, more than 70% of the state was gripped in exceptional drought, the most severe of all five USDM classifications.

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#37. Virginia

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 23.42%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 32.12%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 18.58%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 13.17%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 29.36%

In an article titled “From Drought to Drenched,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch detailed an extraordinary reversal of weather-related fortunes in the state of Virginia. By the spring of 2018, moderate-to-severe drought gripped some areas and most of the state was behind on precipitation. Rain strong enough to trigger severe flash floods soon came, however, and never went away. By February 2019, the state recorded its 11th-straight month of above-normal precipitation.

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Edgar Lee Espe // Shutterstock

#36. Minnesota

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 23.46%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 33.66%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 30.12%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 13.03%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 17.48%

Drought has not been a problem in Minnesota in 2019, but climate change is affecting the state's environment, wildlife, and for many Minnesotans, their way of life. A recent report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune showed that warming temperatures are reducing the population of the state's famous walleye and forcing restrictions on the anglers who fish them.

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#35. North Carolina

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 24.73%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 26.76%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 20.79%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 23.77%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 27.41%

In March 2018, drenching rains brought relief across North Carolina, which had been suffering from moderate drought conditions across much of the state since the previous October. A La Niña pattern had been expected to make things worse with a dry winter, but it was actually a late-season heavy snowfall that pulled the state out of danger.

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#34. New Jersey

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 25.24%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 27.41%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 15.20%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 22.47%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 35.14%

New Jersey is not currently experiencing drought, and although that isn't forecasted to change soon, hot days are likely ahead for the Garden State. According to the Asbury Park Press, New Jersey is expected to experience hotter-than-average temperatures this summer across all three months of the season.

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Zach Frank // Shutterstock

#33. Maine

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 26.71%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 17.67%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 19.83%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 32.31%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 36.29%

Although Maine is currently enjoying drought-free status, the state is no stranger to dangerously dry conditions. In 2018, the Bangor Daily News reported that three consecutive summers of drought were beginning to affect well levels.

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#32. Washington D.C.

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 26.81%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 40.00%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 25.43%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 12.13%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 29.46%

The nation's capital spent the early part of 2018 grappling with abnormally dry conditions. Then in May and June, relief came in the form of drenching rains. That, however, was followed by a phenomenon that experts referred to as a “flash drought” when no measurable rainfall fell for weeks at a time.

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#31. Wyoming

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 27.31%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 33.91%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 18.70%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 24.96%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 31.34%

In 2012, Wyoming was ravaged by a drought that covered 65% of the United States—more than any time since the Dust Bowl. Wyoming emerged, but not for long. Between 2013 and 2018, a slow, steady creep of unseasonably warm weather, dry conditions, and, most significantly, reduced precipitation and dangerously low snowpack created a drought-based ecological disaster that was so gradual, it almost went unnoticed, according to E&E News.

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#30. New York

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 29.72%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 25.24%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 21.98%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 33.40%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 37.63%

Like its neighbor New Jersey, New York is not currently in a drought. Also like its neighbor, the Empire State is expected to experience summer temperatures that are hotter than usual, particularly in the Upstate region.

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#29. South Carolina

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 29.91%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 25.26%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 31.33%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 33.46%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 29.61%

Although Florida missed out on the relief of drenching rains that saturated the East in 2018, South Carolina did not. At the end of May, two weeks of heavy rainfall rendered the state drought free for the first time in two years, although much of the state is now again abnormally dry.

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#28. Nebraska

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 30.43%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 43.40%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 31.04%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 28.66%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 19.45%

In September 2018, Nebraska stood alone as the only state spared from a regional drought that gripped 20% of the Midwest and all of the Cornhusker State's neighbors. North Dakota and South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri all struggled with conditions that were abnormally dry or an outright state of drought.

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#27. Mississippi

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 31.24%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 31.23%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 17.48%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 27.99%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 47.03%

Mississippi is the first state on the list that's currently experiencing drought. Roughly 28,000 people are living in drought in the southwest and southeast corners of the state. Another 64,000 Mississippians are experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

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#26. Montana

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 31.61%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 24.46%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 16.16%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 48.39%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 37.03%

Single-digit percentages of Montana's land area are currently experiencing abnormally dry conditions, about the same as this time last year. That could not be said for 2017, when Montana endured what The Guardian referred to as “an unprecedented drought that's crippling Montana and North Dakota,” that “came without warning, and without equivalent.” The calamity dried out the state more than at any point in a century of recorded history, stoking raging fires, and leaving crop fields barren and livestock herds depleted.

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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#25. Louisiana

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 32.23%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 36.54%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 20.16%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 30.19%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 41.31%

Around 60,000 Louisianans are currently living in abnormally dry conditions, though none are experiencing outright drought. That, however, is the exception, not the rule. The state spent much of the 21st century waiting for rain, including a bruising, 107-week run that included a week in 2011 when nearly 65% of the state experienced exceptional drought, the most severe classification.

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#24. Arkansas

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 32.27%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 39.47%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 14.19%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 23.58%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 50.43%

The last time Arkansas experienced significant drought was in 2015, when severe water shortages racked the southern portion of the state. By 2017, nearly half of the state was drought-free.

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#23. Vermont

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 33.88%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 29.41%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 21.22%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 38.90%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 45.13%

Vermont has been in limited drought conditions since 2000. The most recent drought had abated by 2018, when only the portion of the state bordering Canada remained abnormally dry. Today the state is drought free.

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#22. New Hampshire

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 34.71%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 29.49%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 31.68%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 39.10%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 38.30%

New Hampshire's current water levels are about where they should be. In 2018, however, New Hampshire Public Radio reported that nearly half of the state was suffering from drought and that New Hampshire overall was getting drier.

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Susanne Pommer // Shutterstock

#21. Georgia

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 35.69%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 31.72%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 37.74%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 32.24%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 40.67%

More than two-thirds of Georgia is experiencing some form of drought. The case had been the same through much of 2016 and 2017, but in March 2018, much-needed rainfall resulted in Level 1 water restrictions being lifted in 12 metro Atlanta and north Georgia counties.

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#20. Alabama

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 37.17%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 40.68%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 29.28%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 32.13%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 45.93%

Alabama chipped away at its drought by a land area of more than 6% during the past year, but things might be starting to pivot back toward drier conditions. The lower third of the state is already abnormally dry, and January to April rainfall is significantly lower than average for that period.

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#19. Missouri

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 38.22%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 50.22%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 36.39%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 30.67%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 35.79%

In July 2018, Missouri was gripped by a drought so significant that ranchers trimmed their herds as hay was hard to come by and pasture conditions were poor from lack of rain. Much of the region was suffering from a similar experience, and the governor announced a drought alert in 47 counties. By October, however, enough rain had fallen that the entire state was declared drought free.

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#18. Massachusetts

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 40.58%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 39.62%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 27.68%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 45.97%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 48.46%

There is currently no drought to speak of Massachusetts, but state authorities still are advising residents to be mindful about water consumption. That's because precipitation has been significantly below average, especially in the Connecticut River Valley and the western portion of the state.

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#17. South Dakota

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 40.89%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 41.57%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 39.11%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 40.48%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 42.28%

By November 2018, much of South Dakota had recovered from two-and-a-half years of extreme dryness, particularly in the western portion of the state. The cattle, corn, and soybean industries had suffered significantly, but rain and snow pulled the state out of trouble and South Dakota is currently drought free.

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#16. North Dakota

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 41.63%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 46.79%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 42.99%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 33.87%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 42.77%

By the summer of 2018, an already bad drought was getting worse, as little rainfall and low soil moisture were wreaking havoc across North Dakota. By the middle of August, 56% of the state was abnormally dry. By May, that percentage was above three-quarters.

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#15. Texas

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 43.47%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 50.82%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 43.75%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 44.52%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 35.40%

In 2018, two-thirds of Texas was suffering from drought. Ironically, the hardest-hit region was barely recovered from its wettest month in history, which coincided with the floods of Hurricane Harvey, a massive storm that devastated the state in 2017.

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#14. Rhode Island

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 44.29%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 34.22%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 17.87%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 63.04%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 60.76%

Rhode Island is not currently experiencing excessive dryness, but countless trees in the state died as a result of recent droughts, as well as insect infestation and disease. State legislators are currently working with representatives from the Audubon Society to craft legislation that would protect Rhode Island's trees, in part by planning for drought conditions.

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#13. Hawaii

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 45.85%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 59.06%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 49.01%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 49.00%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 27.71%

Hawaii raced from no drought a year ago to four-fifths of the state suffering from drought today. February was wet, but March and much of April were painfully dry, leading to widespread drought—even severe drought in some of the state.

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#12. Colorado

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 47.10%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 56.78%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 45.71%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 34.99%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 50.64%

On May 6, 2019, the Denver Post printed a celebratory headline, exclamation point and all, that read: “Finally! Colorado's drought is nearly officially over.” Just two months prior, more than half the state was in drought, but the snow-heavy winter that delighted skiers and snowboarders replenished depleted water reserves when it melted.

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#11. Connecticut

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 49.17%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 49.21%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 33.51%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 51.06%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 61.91%

The hydrologic conditions in Connecticut are currently above normal, according to the official State of Connecticut Water Status, meaning there's plenty of water to go around. If the situation should reverse, however, the state will be ready. The Connecticut Drought Preparedness and Response Plan was updated in 2018.

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#10. Washington

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 53.02%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 37.20%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 35.33%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 81.45%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 57.72%

Virtually none of Washington state experienced drought one year ago, but that all changed when the governor declared drought emergencies in three of the state's crucial basins. Several major rivers are currently experiencing streamflow that is well below the state's drought threshold.

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#9. Kansas

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 54.50%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 73.55%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 61.03%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 42.57%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 41.82%

By September 2018, parts of northeastern Kansas were still parched, ponds were still low, and streams were still not running. It was a dramatic improvement, however, thanks to late-summer rains that brought much-needed relief to the entire state, which had been gripped by a drought so widespread that a drought declaration was set for all of Kansas's 105 counties.

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#8. Idaho

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 55.48%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 52.21%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 38.04%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 71.19%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 60.11%

Idaho's drought is contained to a small area of the state and is not particularly significant. It had been much more widespread and approaching the level of severe, but in February 2019 news reports noted that heavy snowfall had boosted water levels in most of Idaho's basins.

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#7. Oklahoma

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 55.53%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 72.50%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 52.61%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 46.88%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 50.52%

In June 2018, much of Oklahoma was months into a serious drought that was beginning to dissipate in some counties, but not in the northwest portion of the state. Farmers and ranchers there struggled to get by on less than 6 inches of rain in 180 days while other areas were enjoying as much as 20 inches. Less than a year later and Oklahoma is drought free.

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#6. New Mexico

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 67.37%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 66.99%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 77.34%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 67.59%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 58.27%

Like neighboring Arizona, New Mexico enjoyed a wet winter that was eagerly welcomed by the drought-stricken state. Also like Arizona, however, the major rain and snowfall that drenched the state were not quite enough to undo the drought. Nearly half the state is still enduring some form of drought.

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#5. Oregon

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 74.48%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 68.13%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 67.20%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 88.19%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 74.40%

Like Arizona, a wet winter went a long way toward pulling Oregon out of a smothering drought, but also like Arizona, conditions were so difficult that even lots of rain and snow weren't enough. By February 2019, depleted snowpack stores had rebounded a great deal, but abnormally dry conditions still persist.

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#4. Nevada

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 75.87%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 79.38%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 74.42%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 73.75%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 75.93%

Nevada had been grappling with serious drought, but the state got a break in the winter of 2018. Roughly 185% of normal snowfall rates accumulated in the Eastern Sierra, building a massive snowpack that gushed into runoff streams as it melted, filling reservoirs across the state.

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#3. Utah

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 76.61%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 76.54%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 73.19%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 77.13%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 79.36%

About 5,000 Utah residents are currently living in a drought or abnormally dry conditions, a far cry from just one year ago when the entire state was gripped in drought—in large portions of the state, that drought was listed as exceptional. A much-needed wet and snowy winter solved all that, however, and by April 2019, all but a few specks on the state map were free from want of water.

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#2. California

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 81.50%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 84.23%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 77.78%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 81.75%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 82.20%

Historically, California has been one of the most drought-prone states in the country, and the past seven years were a testament to that fact. The state experienced some form of drought for 376 weeks straight. March 2019 marked the first time the state was free of drought since Dec. 20, 2011.

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#1. Arizona

- Percent of state that experienced drought conditions (five-year average): 86.44%
--- Percent of state with drought in winter: 82.20%
--- Percent of state with drought in spring: 86.86%
--- Percent of state with drought in summer: 87.06%
--- Percent of state with drought in fall: 89.40%

Arizona enjoyed a much welcomed wet winter that delivered record rain and snow—last October was the wettest on record. It went a long way to relieving the parched state, 100% of which was under drought conditions in May 2018. The relief was welcome, but not enough to solve the problem in total. In the words of one expert quoted by the Phoenix New Times, “...one year doesn't make up for a couple decades of drought."

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