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Discover: What are flash droughts?

I am speaking at a workshop this week in Atlanta that looks at drought prediction and impacts in the Southeast. One of the main topics of the workshop is flash drought, a drought that rapidly intensifies as rainfall drops to near zero in a prolonged dry spell and temperatures rise well above average. If you would like to learn more about flash droughts, here is a Discover article that provides a good general description. Flash droughts are especially harmful to agriculture because a long, hot dry spell that comes when corn is pollinating, for example, can mean the loss of an entire crop if the pollen will not stick to the silk at the appropriate time due to dry conditions. It can also be especially harmful to livestock producers if it occurs in spring when hay supplies are almost exhausted, and the new pastures are not able to green up for the cattle to eat. Often flash droughts are not well depicted on Drought Monitor maps because of the short time scale of the event, since DM authors use multiple time scales to capture drought conditions.

A trio tractors rake, bale and collect straw at Scoggins Farm, a family farm on West Armuchee Road in South Walker County, Ga., on June 1, 2017. Plentiful rain so far this spring has fostered a far better growing season so far, local agriculture officials say. Photo by Ben Benton /Times Free Press.