Eighty percent of the United States is mired in a drought the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Dust Bowl era.
While the repercussions of a poor agricultural season will be paid for at grocery stores checkouts for months to come, some states are clearly feeling the brunt of the devastating drought more than others.
To find the Thirstiest States in America, we used data from June 1 to July 16 from the National Drought Mitigation Center and the U.S. Geological Survey. We specifically looked at the percentage area of each state that has experienced extreme or exceptional drought conditions—the two worst levels of drought tracked by the NDMC. But because some states are better prepared than others to deal with dryness, we also took into account each state’s drought-preparedness plans, according to the NDMC, using our own 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being the least prepared and 5 being the most prepared. Finally, we accounted for how thirsty each state’s streams and waterways are, based on the percentage of streamflow in the bottom 10th percentile of the lowest ever recorded.