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When is a drought not a drought? When it’s raining, might seem the obvious answer – but for meteorologists, hydrologists and government officials trying to tackle our water shortages, it’s never as simple as that. Drought persists over much of southern England despite the wettest April on record and grey, overcast skies.

…..At present, the official definition of drought is important because water companies can only introduce restrictions, such as hosepipe bans, when the drought criteria have been met. But the single word “drought” is used to cover a wide range of local situations, which can vary widely. Experts have their own distinctions – a meteorological drought, for instance, differs from a hydrological drought and from an economic drought – but these mean little to most people.

…. They may not have the raw power of the simple Anglo-Saxon word drought, but they may help people to…

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