The amount of precipitation in a particular area varies from year to year, but over a period of years the average amount is fairly constant. A drought is a period of drier-than-normal conditions that results in water-related problems and other issues. When little or no rain falls, soils can dry out, plants can die and livestock can suffer. When dry weather persists, stream and river flows can decline, water levels in lakes and reservoirs can fall and water in wells and aquifers can decline. Drought can have a serious impact on health, agriculture, economies, energy and the environment.
Droughts can develop quickly or gradually over several weeks, months or even years, and worsened with extreme heat or wind. A drought can end just as quickly or gradually as it began, but more commonly persist for months. A single rainstorm may provide temporary relief, but its impact is short term. Thunderstorms often produce large amounts of rain in a very short time, causing the rain to run off into streams rather than soak into the ground. Several soaking rains may be required to recharge groundwater and break a drought.
Reports and photographs are essential tools used to assess drought conditions. The department encourages the public to submit information and photographs about conditions in their area in order to help local, state and national decision-makers assess drought conditions and impacts in Missouri. If you would like to submit drought-related conditions and impacts for your area, please fill out the survey form at Condition Monitoring Observer Reports (CMOR)*
Tips and best practices for using CMOR, including how to download and use its field app, can be found in the CMOR troubleshooting guide. Please note, those uploading photos to CMOR using newer iPhones will need to change their photo format settings to “most compatible” to successfully add images. Users also don’t need a user account to submit CMOR reports, and can “continue without logging in” to proceed.
*The survey is a nationwide service developed by the National Drought Mitigation Center, based at the University of Nebraska, in partnership with the National Integrated Drought Information System and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Nearly 95% of Missouri counties are experiencing drought conditions, with 20% experiencing extreme drought across central Missouri. The Drought Assessment Committee has been activated to further coordinate drought response actions.
The more proactive we are, the better we can help our farmers and citizens lessen the impact of even the most severe droughts. Listed below are resources currently available to assist our communities. Any additional resources will be added as they become available.
For water supply concerns or questions, systems should contact MoDNR’s Public Drinking Water Branch or Water Protection Program for more information.
Landowners should contact their local county soil and water conservation district office for additional information and assistance.
Drought may require safety precautions just like other weather hazards. Hot, dry conditions can cause an increased risk for other hazards as well.
After more than two years of study and development, the department replaced the previous 2002 Drought Plan with the 2023 Missouri Drought Mitigation and Response Plan, which uses modern tools for enhanced monitoring and assessment of all types of droughts. It also gives everyone from government officials, to water users, water suppliers and leaders of industry guidance for adopting water conservation best practices to grow their drought resiliency. The main goals of the Missouri Drought Mitigation and Response Plan are serving as an information source for reducing drought impacts, increasing public awareness, enhancing resiliency, promoting water conservation, improving monitoring, facilitating response planning, as well as clarifying roles and responsibilities.
A key component of the Missouri Drought Mitigation and Response Plan is a matrix of drought mitigation actions and strategies. The matrix of over 100 actions and strategies is intended to aid state, federal, and local government officials; commercial, industrial, and private water users; and public and private water suppliers in both planning for and responding to drought events in Missouri. Some of the actions and strategies presented in the matrix have already been implemented and have been proven to be useful in mitigating impacts. Others should be considered for implementation prior to or in response to future droughts.
As described in the plan, Missouri’s Drought Response System has been divided into five phases to provide for a measured response to worsening effects of drought, typically on a county-by-county basis. This drought monitoring and assessment system provides for state and local planners to proactively coordinate and take action to raise awareness and mitigate the effects of drought. The five phases, which guide state-level government actions and responsibilities, include:
Missouri’s drought of 2022 impacted both Missouri agriculture and navigation on the Missouri River. Abnormally dry conditions extended through summer 2023 in southern Missouri, with dry conditions re-emerging in fall 2022 in west and southwest Missouri. The entire state experienced abnormal to exceptional drought conditions at its peak. As a result of this drought, the department replaced the 2002 Missouri Drought Plan with the 2023 Missouri Drought Mitigation and Response Plan, to help guide future statewide, multi-entity drought response efforts. The updated plan is designed to aid government officials, water users and water suppliers in planning and responding to droughts in Missouri.
Missouri’s drought of 2018 was notable in its localized intensities and its overall impacts to both agriculture and public water supplies. Abnormally dry conditions extended through fall and winter 2017, with dry conditions re-emerging in late spring 2018. Ninety-eight percent of the state experienced dry to exceptional drought conditions at the peak of the 2018 Drought. For more information, review the Drought Assessment Committee's 2018 Drought Response Report.
Very little rainfall and record-breaking high temperatures presented Missouri with many challenges in 2012. Missouri’s drought conditions quickly deteriorated after May, when 2% of the state had moderate drought conditions. By June, 99% of the state was abnormally dry or drier, which escalated to extreme drought conditions in August. For more information, review the 2012 Missouri Drought Report.
Missouri Geological SurveyP.O. Box 176Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176United StatesPhase 0 – Advisory PhasePhase 1 – Incipient PhasePhase 2 – Alert PhasePhase 3 – Conservation PhasePhase 4 – Drought Emergency