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National Drought Mitigation Center
NDMC Drought Impact Reporter

Drought Impact Reporter Help - Mapping

Using the Map

The default view of the map shows all impacts recorded in the past 30 days at the county level for all states, all categories, and all report types. Summary statistics appear below the map on the Impact Counts and Report Counts tabs. Use the Impacts List and Reports List tabs to see narrative and other details.

Default view.

Map Controls

Use the compass arrows in the top left corner of the map to move the map view north, south, east or west.

Use the plus sign to zoom in, the minus sign to zoom out, and the world icon to go to the most remote view.

Click on Map in the navigation bar to get back to the default view.

Main navigation bar.

If you click on a state, a popup box appears with summary statistics for that state.

Click on a state to get summary statistics.

The Impacts List button at the bottom of the box brings up another window with a paginated list of impacts. Click and drag the lower right corner of the box to change its size. Click on the titles of the impacts to see more detail.

List of impacts.

Click on the County View button at the bottom of the state impacts popup box to zoom to a view of the state with county boundaries. The summary information below the map switches to state information.

County view.

Hover over a county to see the name of the county. Click on a county to see summary statistics for that county. Click the Impacts List button to see detail on impacts. Click All-States View to zoom back out.

County summary.

Use the Impacts List button to view details in a separate window. When a county view is selected, county-level impacts appear first, from most recent to older, followed by statewide impacts.

Use the All-States View button in the popup window below the summary statistics to return to the original map view of the whole United States.

County impacts list.

Using the Legend

The legend allows you to turn the impacts and reports layers on and off, and to refine your search by time, place, impact category, and report types. The Overlays tab displays other useful boundaries.

Layers that are turned on and off with checkboxes refresh immediately. The options that let you select a time period, state or county, one or more categories and one or more report types aren’t applied until you click the Refresh button at the top of the legend.

Use the opacity slider to make layers more transparent or more opaque.

Caution: Some options don’t work well together. For example, mapping reports by affected area covers up the impacts.

Use the opacity slider to make layers more transparent or more opaque.

Use the triangles to the left of the legend headings to open and close each part of the legend.

Impacts and Reports each have their own layer on the Drought Impact Reporter map. You can turn the layers on and off by using the checkboxes.

The DIR legend.


Use the Scale selection panel to toggle between scales.

National impacts are generally indirect economic effects of drought and affect all 50 states.

Multistate impacts apply to 2-49 states.

State impacts affect a single state.

County impacts describe drought’s effects on a specific county or group of counties.

City impacts describe drought’s effects on a municipality.

Impacts may have more than one affected area, so a single impact may show up at more than one scale.

Reports and impact layers are turned on.

Time Period

The default time window is the last 30 days. Open the time window selector on the legend to choose a different interval. After you choose a new interval of time, click the Refresh button at the top of the legend to apply your choice.

Select a Time Period

Choosing Custom brings up windows for start and end dates and a calendar to select dates. The search will return information on any impact that occurs at least partially within the specified window. For reports, if no specific start or end date is given, the search uses the publication date instead.

If you customize the date, choose the year first.

To select a date in the distant past, select the earliest year visible on the dropdown list. Repeat until you are able to select the desired year. Each time you select a year, that year becomes the midpoint of the dropdown list.

Be sure to click on a specific date.

Customize your selection.
Select a date.


Open the Location selector on the legend to choose a state. Click refresh in order to apply your choice and zoom to the state.

The display below the map will change to show counts and details for impacts and reports for that state. Clicking on a county brings up details for that county in a popup box, along with buttons that bring up impact details or return you to the original view.

Select a location.


We categorize drought impacts and reports based on what sectors are involved. A report or an impact can have more than one category. The Category bar on the legend allows users to narrow their search to one or more categories. The colored icons below the map change to reflect which categories were included in the search.


Drought effects associated with agriculture, farming, aquaculture, horticulture, forestry or ranching. Examples of drought-induced agricultural impacts include damage to crop quality; income loss for farmers due to reduced crop yields; reduced productivity of cropland; insect infestation; plant disease; increased irrigation costs; cost of new or supplemental water resource development (wells, dams, pipelines) for agriculture; reduced productivity of rangeland; forced reduction of foundation stock; closure/limitation of public lands to grazing; high cost or unavailability of water for livestock, Christmas tree farms, forestry, raising domesticated horses, bees, fish, shellfish, or horticulture.

Business & Industry

This category tracks drought's effects on non-agriculture and non-tourism businesses, such as lawn care, recreational vehicles or gear dealers, and plant nurseries. Typical impacts include reduction or loss of demand for goods or services, reduction in employment, variation in number of calls for service, late opening or early closure for the season, bankruptcy, permanent store closure, and other economic impacts.


This category concerns drought's effects on power production, rates and revenue. Examples include production changes for both hydropower and non-hydropower providers, changes in electricity rates, revenue shortfalls and/or windfall profits, and purchase of electricity when hydropower generation is down.


Drought often contributes to forest, range, rural, or urban fires, fire danger, and burning restrictions. Specific impacts include enacting or easing burning restrictions, fireworks bans, increased fire risk, occurrence of fire (number of acres burned, number of wildfires compared to average, people displaced, etc.), state of emergency during periods of high fire danger, closure of roads or land due to fire occurrence or risk, and expenses to state and county governments of paying firefighters overtime and paying equipment (helicopter) costs.

Plants & Wildlife

Drought effects associated with unmanaged plants and wildlife, both aquatic and terrestrial, include loss of biodiversity of plants or wildlife; loss of trees from rural or urban landscapes, shelterbelts, or wooded conservation areas; reduction and degradation of fish and wildlife habitat; lack of feed and drinking water; greater mortality due to increased contact with agricultural producers, as animals seek food from farms and producers are less tolerant of the intrusion; disease; increased vulnerability to predation (from species concentrated near water); migration and concentration (loss of wildlife in some areas and too much wildlife in others); increased stress on endangered species; salinity levels affecting wildlife; wildlife encroaching into urban areas; and loss of wetlands.

Relief, Response & Restrictions

This category refers to drought effects associated with disaster declarations, aid programs, requests for disaster declaration or aid, water restrictions, or fire restrictions. Examples include disaster declarations, aid programs, USDA Secretarial disaster declarations, Small Business Association disaster declarations, government relief and response programs, state-level water shortage or water emergency declarations, county-level declarations, a declared "state of emergency," requests for declarations or aid, non-profit organization-based relief, water restrictions, fire restrictions, National Weather Service Red Flag warnings, and declaration of drought watches or warnings.

Society & Public Health

Drought effects associated with human, public and social health include health-related problems related to reduced water quantity and/or quality, such as increased concentration of contaminants; loss of human life (e.g., from heat stress, suicide); increased respiratory ailments; increased disease caused by wildlife concentrations; increased human disease caused by changes in insect carrier populations; population migration (rural to urban areas, migrants into the United States); loss of aesthetic values; change in daily activities (non-recreational, like putting a bucket in the shower to catch water); elevated stress levels; meetings to discuss drought; communities creating drought plans; lawmakers altering penalties for violation of water restrictions; demand for higher water rates; cultural/historical discoveries from low water levels; prayer meetings; cancellation of fundraising events; cancellation/alteration of festivals or holiday traditions; stockpiling water; public service announcements and drought information websites; protests; and conflicts within the community due to competition for water.

Tourism & Recreation

Drought effects associated with recreational activities and tourism include closure of state hiking trails and hunting areas due to fire danger; water access or navigation problems for recreation; bans on recreational activities; reduced license, permit, or ticket sales (e.g. hunting, fishing, ski lifts, etc.); losses related to curtailed activities (e.g. bird watching, hunting and fishing, boating, etc.); reduced park visitation; and cancellation or postponement of sporting events.

Water Supply & Quality

Drought effects associated with water supply and water quality include dry wells, voluntary and mandatory water restrictions, changes in water rates, easing of water restrictions, increases in requests for new well permits, changes in water use due to water restrictions, greater water demand, decreases in water allocation or allotments, installation or alteration of water pumps or water intakes, changes to allowable water contaminants, water line damage or repairs due to drought stress, drinking water turbidity, change in water color or odor, declaration of drought watches or warnings, and mitigation activities.

General Awareness

General Awareness applies only to media reports and usually indicates that people are concerned about drought but no specific impact has occurred yet or the information is too general to use for an impact.

Additional Descriptors

The state icon means that the affected area of an impact or a report is statewide and is mapped to all the counties in a particular state.

The “thumbs up” icon means that a report or impact has been identified as a positive result of drought, such as fewer construction delays due to rain. The Advanced Search page allows users to restrict searches to positive impacts. Positive impacts are rare. As of September 2011, only 36 out of more than 13,000 impacts were positive.


Access visual overlays by using the overlays tab on the legend. Put a checkmark in the box to make a layer visible, and expand the bar to get to the opacity control. When one of the Overlays is checked, you won’t be able to click on a state or county for more detail as you normally would.

Example overlay layer.

U.S. Drought Monitor

The default selection for the Drought Monitor overlay is the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor. Click in the date window to select a different week’s Drought Monitor, and click the refresh icon to the right of the date window to update it.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Hydrologic Unit Codes

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) are river basins and sub-basins – drainage areas.


Climate Divisions

Climate Divisions are a long-standing convention in climate data.

Climate divisions

Congressional Districts

A congressional district is a territorial division of a state, represented by an elected official in the U.S. House of Representatives. These officials may be interested in how drought is affecting their constituents.

Congressional districts

Risk Management Agency (RMA) Regions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers crop insurance, decision support, and other forms of assistance to farmers and ranchers through the Risk Management Agency. The National Drought Mitigation Center developed the Drought Impact Reporter with support from the Risk Management Agency, among others.

RMA regions