Drought is a prolonged period of dryness severe enough to reduce soil moisture, water and snow levels below the minimum necessary for sustaining plant, animal, and economic systems. Droughts are a natural part of the climate cycle. In the past century, Washington State has experienced a number of drought episodes, including several that lasted for more than a single season – 1928 to 1932, 1992 to 1994, and 1996 to 1997.
Periods of droughts can have significant environmental, agricultural, health, economic and social consequences. The effect varies according to vulnerability. For example, subsistence farmers are more likely to migrate during drought because they do not have alternative food sources. Areas with populations that depend on as a major food source are more vulnerable to famine.
Drought can also reduce water quality, because lower water flows reduce dilution of pollutants and increase contamination of remaining water sources.
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