When a drought is not a drought
A field lays fallow in Firebaugh, Calif., in the state's San Joaquin Valley.
Adriene Hill:Well today would ordinarily be one of the busiest days of the year at the nation's ski resorts, since it's the tail end of a holiday weekend. But the lack of snow across the west this year has made skiing impossible in many places. Some are wondering if we're officially in a drought.
Marketplace's Adriene Hill reports now on the official definition of drought.
Adriene Hill: Turns out drought is just like the markets. It's all about supply -- that's the rain -- but also demand.
Mark Svoboda is a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center.
Mark Svoboda: Drought is something just about different for everyone you talk to. There's no universal definition for drought.
In general, he says, drought starts with too little precipitation over a certain amount of time.
Svoboda: When that impacts you, that's when you're in a drought.
Those impacts have to do with precipitation, sure, but also other people.
David Miskus is a meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center with the federal government.
David Miskus: Sometimes you can get normal rainfall, but if the demand is much higher than normal, you remove the reservoir much quicker than you think and they consider that a manmade drought.
Like the markets, drought is about scarcity and expectations. It's all about numbers and what they mean to us.
I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.