What is a drought?

Nacogdoches Lake in Texas shown during the drought of 2011.

A drought is a prolonged period of abnormally dry weather that disrupts the water supply in an area.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But droughts are actually hard to detect, compared to other natural disasters such as hurricanes. And they last longer. This means that their effect on forests is more gradual and harder to see.

Droughts are also difficult to predict. They are caused by a variety of interrelated factors, such as the amount of moisture in soil, and surface temperatures on land and at sea, that produce extreme climate conditions.

In the United States, droughts are monitored by the National Integrated Drought Management System, which produces the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor to reflect current drought conditions across the country as well as an early warning system. If you suspect your woods may be facing drought conditions, consult this weekly report.

Read on to identify symptoms of water stress in your trees and ways to increase your woods' resilience to drought.

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