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Midwest DEWS region map with individual states highlighted: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
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Drought Early Warning System

Midwest

Precipitation extremes in the Midwest have a major impact on the region’s resources, economic sectors, and residents. Over the last century, precipitation trends in the Midwest have been moving towards wetter conditions and fewer droughts than the region experienced in the early 20th century. However, the Midwest has still felt adverse impacts during recent droughts, particularly in 1988 and 2012. These adverse impacts include limited barge transportation on major rivers (including the Mississippi River), decreased agricultural production, challenges for municipal water supply and quality, and reduced productivity for hydropower. An added challenge in recent years has been the tendency to transition from drought to flood and back to drought within short time spans, sometimes within a matter of months. NIDIS and its partners launched the Midwest DEWS in response to the 2012 drought, which highlighted the need for additional drought early warning and preparedness in the region.

Primary contact: Molly Woloszyn, Regional Drought Information Coordinator

Regional Activities

Regional Activities Summary

The following table highlights activities in the Midwest that are ongoing efforts related to drought, involve multiple partners, serve as a unique way to address regional drought needs, and are related to at least one of the components of drought early warning. Please contact Molly Woloszyn (molly.woloszyn@noaa.gov) for more information about the table or to inquire about getting an activity added to the list.

DEWS Component Legend

Observation & Monitoring
 
Planning & Preparedness
 
Prediction & Forecasting
 
Communication & Outreach
 
Research & Applications

Select filters to browse DEWS Activities below

Description

Central Indiana is the second regional area to be studied on account of the progress already made by the Central Indiana Drinking Water Collaborative (“Collaborative”); a group of water utilities…

Scope
Region
Key Partners
Indiana Finance Authority, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Water Utilities
Project Timeline
Jan
2019
Dec
2020
DEWS Components
Description

This project aims to build a predictive understanding of drought and to quantify the risk of droughts with certain characteristics in the lower and upper Mississippi and Ohio River basins. This…

Scope
Region
Key Partners
NOAA Earth Systems Research Laboratory
Project Timeline
Jan
2019
Dec
2021
DEWS Components
Description

This project will produce decision calendars to inform users of where and when science can inform decision-making, and improve communication and usability of climate information. The project…

Scope
Region
Key Partners
National Drought Mitigation Center, USDA Midwest Climate Hub, University of Wisconsin, NIDIS
Project Timeline
Jan
2018
Dec
2020
DEWS Components
Description

The Indiana State Climate Office is in the process of developing an enhanced flash drought risk tool that can be utilized by government agencies, communicators, and the public to monitor…

Scope
Region
Key Partners
Purdue University
Project Timeline
Oct
2019
Sep
2020
DEWS Components
Description

The Kentucky Climate Center/Kentucky Mesonet is developing an interactive data visualization and analysis dashboard to enable users to better understand the nature, rate, and threat of drought…

Scope
State
Key Partners
Kentucky Climate Center, Kentucky Division of Water, U.S. Geological Survey, NIDIS, National Drought Mitigation Center
Project Timeline
Jul
2018
Jun
2020
DEWS Components

Observation + Monitoring

When monitoring drought, it is important to look at data across the spectrum—from the atmosphere, land surface, and water availability below the surface. The list of data and maps below has been customized for the Midwest, and provides a snapshot of conditions across that spectrum, including precipitation and temperature departure data, evaporative demand, streamflow, soil moisture, groundwater, and various derived indices for monitoring drought in the region. Monitoring for the impact of drought is also important, and resources to submit conditions and/or impacts and view conditions are provided.

Regional Data and Maps

The Midwest Climate Watch is a resource for current climate information for the Midwestern region of the United States, produced by the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC).

MRCC produces maps showing evapotranspiration and water balance for certain stations in the Midwest region at 1-day, 7-day, 14-day, 30-day, and 60-day intervals.

The Integrated Water Portal is a map-driven data exploration and visualization tool that brings together water data from several agencies and allows users to quickly explore regional and local wate

This tool, available as part of The Climate Toolbox, provides maps and summary tables of different drought types, such as agricultural and meteorological drought, for a location in the contiguous U

The Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) is an experimental tool that can serve as an indicator of both rapidly evolving "flash" droughts (developing over a few weeks) and sustained droughts (de

The National Drought Mitigation Center's Drought Impacts Toolkit features several key tools for monitoring and mitigating the impacts of drought, including condition monitoring observer reports, th

Planning + Preparedness

There is little that can be done to influence the weather patterns that cause drought, but preparatory actions and policies can help communities cope with drought impacts. Drought planning can ensure continuity of public services and quality of life. Drought planning can be done at the local and/or state level, or integrated into existing plans (e.g., hazard mitigation planning, land-use planning).

The Midwest DEWS has a current project with the National Drought Mitigation Center to analyze drought mitigation and response actions in state and county plans across the region. Results of this project will be shared via this web page and the Midwest DEWS email list when they are available.  

Regional Drought Planning Resources

Document Date
December 2019
Document Date
May 2019

Prediction + Forecasting

When will drought affect me? How long could it last? This section includes resources for drought prediction and forecasting on what could be ahead, including the short-term (e.g., 8–14 day forecast), seasonal to subseasonal (e.g., monthly), and future climate projections (e.g., mid-century). The appropriate time scale will depend upon how this information is being used (e.g., drought response, mitigation management action, long-term planning). Weather and climate prediction is an evolving science, as researchers continue to find ways to improve models and forecasting capabilities at various time scales. 

Regional Forecasts and Outlooks

National Weather Service (NWS) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) generates outlooks that view probabilities of above- or below-normal temperature and precipitation maps at the 6-10 Day, 8-14 Day, Wee

NWS provides a wide selection of forecast maps for temperature and precipitation for the next 12 hours to 6 days.

This tool shows one-month projections for EDDI, which is an early warning guidance tool that is available for monitoring.

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) produces official monthly and seasonal temperature and precipitation outlook products.

The Climate Explorer offers graphs and maps of observed and projected temperature, precipitation, and related climate variables for every county in the contiguous United States, helping people asse

This tool, available as part of The Climate Toolbox, provides a table of future climate projections from an average of 20 global climate models under either high or low future greenhouse gas emissi

Communication + Outreach

An important component for drought early warning is communicating this information to stakeholders across the Midwest region that need this information in order to make more informed decisions. There are various ways drought information is communicated across the Midwest, including a monthly webinar series, a quarterly climate report, and the Midwest DEWS email list.

Are you interested in becoming a partner on the Midwest DEWS social media listserv to share drought-related posts about the Midwest? If so, please email Molly Woloszyn (molly.woloszyn@noaa.gov).

Regional Communications Documents

Document Date
March 2021
Document Date
November 2019