2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


WILHITE, Donald A., National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska, 239 Chase Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583 and KNUTSON, Cody L., National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska, 156 Chase Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583, cknutson1@unl.edu

Drought is a slow-onset, insidious natural hazard that affects all portions of the United States. Vulnerability to drought appears to be increasing in all regions and sectors throughout the county and in all drought-prone nations. The traditional crisis management approach to address the impacts of these events has proven to be ineffective, untimely, and poorly coordinated. A more risk-based management approach has been gaining acceptance in the United States and worldwide because it addresses the underlying causes of impacts, vulnerability. This approach includes development of national policies and mitigation plans directed at identifying the causes of drought impacts and improved early warning systems that provide information to decision makers in a timely manner so that actions can be taken in advance of the event to lessen risk, impacts, and the need for post-impact government intervention. This paper discusses the conceptual framework for improved drought preparedness planning with an emphasis on reducing societal vulnerability to future episodes of drought. Specific examples from states in the western U.S. will be used to illustrate the status of drought planning. In addition, recent drought episodes will be illustrated in terms of their severity, duration, and spatial extent. The future vulnerability of the western U.S., including the Great Plains region, will be illustrated through a discussion of the dynamics of the drought hazard and societal vulnerability.