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Palmer Drought Index

The Palmer Drought Index, sometimes called the Palmer Drought Severity Index, is an often-used measurement of dryness based on recent precipitation and temperature.

It was developed by meteorologist Wayne Palmer, who first published his method in the 1965 paper Meteorological Drought for the Office of Climatology of the U.S. Weather Bureau.

The Palmer Drought Index is based on a supply-and-demand model of soil moisture. Supply is comparatively straightforward to calculate, but demand is more complicated as it depends on many factors - not just temperature and the amount of moisture in the soil but hard-to-calibrate factors including evapotranspiration and recharge rates.

The index has proved most effective in determining long-term drought a matter of several months and not as good with forecasts over a matter of weeks. It uses a 0 as normal, and drought is shown in terms of minus numbers; for example, minus 2 is moderate drought, minus 3 is severe drought, and minus 4 is extreme drought.

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