U.S. Drought Portal



Drought in California is complex, with diverse types of drought, climates, vulnerabilities, impacts, supplies and demands, and information needs. Further, droughts in California often depend on more than just local precipitation. The challenge is to develop useful and meaningful drought monitoring and prediction products, and to effectively characterize and communicate drought information to a range of decision-makers, water users, and the public.

The California NIDIS Pilot is developing and demonstrating a variety of early warning information resources and strategies, in partnership with agencies, industries, institutions, tribes, and other major stakeholders. The California NIDIS Pilot, which commenced in Fall 2010, is the third of the NIDIS pilots (after the Upper Colorado and ACF River Basin).
The California NIDIS Pilot is coordinated and implemented through four "Pilot Activities": Southern California, Russian River, Central Valley, and Klamath Basin.
  • Southern California—complexities of urban droughts in a well-plumbed system, heavily reliant on imported water
  • Russian River—hydrologic extremes with droughts draining reservoirs and precipitation events filling reservoirs
  • Central Valley—remote sensing to assess extent of fallowed land
  • Klamath Basin— integrated hydroclimate information system in a complex water environment
The California Pilot is expected to generate a range of benefits, including the following:
  • Integrated information and resources for a range of decisions and early warning time frames, from monthly/seasonal/annual operations to multi-year/decadal planning
  • Real-time on-the-ground use of NIDIS early warning information for reducing costs and impacts
  • Institutionalized resources and capabilities to reduce drought risks now and in the future
  • Innovations, resources, and lessons that can be transferred to the rest of nation
Anne Steinemann, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

California Drought Information