2020–22 North American drought

Conditions across the West, Midwest, and Northeast

Drought developed in the Midwestern, Western and Northeastern United States during summer 2020.[1] States especially hard hit by drought were Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico and Nevada.[2]

2020–22 North American drought
Map of drought conditions in the United States as of September 1, 2020, showing areas of "severe" and "extreme" drought over the Western United States There were also several areas of "abnormally dry" and "moderate" drought across the Midwest and Northeast United States
Map from the US Drought Monitor showing the growth of "extreme" or "exceptional" drought conditions over much of the Western United States as of June 1, 2021
Map from the US Drought Monitor showing conditions as of October 12, 2021. It showed the reduction of drought in the East. The growth for extreme and exceptional drought conditions, however, happened in the West

In 2021, drought conditions improved in the Northeast. However, they got worse in the Western United States. As of June 2021, "nearly the entire region (97 percent) was facing abnormally dry conditions."[3] Drought conditions also affected large areas of Mexico and Canada.

The drought conditions of 2020 were associated with a very strong La Niña pattern that had developed in the Pacific Ocean.[4] Across several sections of North America, the dry problems extended to 2022.[5]

United States


By Fall 2020, drought in the Western U.S. was the worst since a similar drought seven years earlier.[6]

The 2020–21 drought was described by some as the worst drought in modern history in the Western U.S.[7]

By late spring 2021, dry conditions had expanded to almost the entire state of California and to nearby Nevada.[8]



Iowa got widespread rain during September 2020. It improved the dry conditions in the eastern part of the state.[9] However, the western part of the state had severe-to-extreme drought. The conditions lasted past 2020 and well into 2021. By late spring 2021, northeastern, northern and central Iowa were back under dry conditions.[10]

The 2020–21 drought also affected Michigan, south-central Wisconsin, most of North Dakota and South Dakota.[11]

In northeastern Illinois near the Chicago metropolitan area, May 2021 was the driest since 2012.[12] As of June 1, 2021, Chicago had only gotten barely half an inch of rain due to dry conditions in the area.[13]



By late August/early September 2020, dry conditions across several parts of the United States had worsened. The New England states and New York were under severe or extreme drought.[14]

The Northeastern United States were out of drought conditions by June 2021.



By June 2021, moderate drought conditions had developed in Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida.[15]



As of April 2021, Mexico was under one of the most widespread droughts in its history. Almost 85% of the country had drought conditions.[16]



As of spring 2021, extreme drought threatened the Canadian Prairies in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. These areas had gone through an abnormally dry fall and spring.[17]



  1. "The 2020 Drought Update". Drought.gov. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  2. "A Third of the U.S. Faces Drought". Earth Observatory. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  3. "The 2020 Western Drought". The Pacific Institute. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  4. "La Nina Roars, Unleashing Fires, Drought and Floods". Bloomberg. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  5. "Six Climate Trends Shape 2022 Across United States". The Hill Report. Retrieved January 1, 2022.
  6. "The Drought in the West". Washington Post. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  7. "The Western US May Be Entering its Most Severe Drought in Modern History". CBS News. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  8. "See Where Drought Conditions Have Expanded in California". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  9. "The Drought Conditions Ease in Iowa Thanks to Widespread Rain". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  10. "The Drought Monitor Shows a Southern Iowa Improvement". KMA Land. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  11. "Spotty Rain Improves Drought for Parts of the Upper Midwest". The Duluth News Tribune. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  12. "Severe Drought in Cook County". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  13. "The Drought Deepens During Chicago's 4th Driest Start to the Year". WGN. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  14. "U.S. Drought is Expanding Rapidly". MLive. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  15. "Drought Monitor Narrative". The Drought Monitor. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  16. "A Widespread Drought in Mexico". Earth Observatory. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  17. "Extreme Drought is Threatening Parts of the Prairies". CBC. Retrieved June 11, 2021.