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The Missouri River Basin DEWS region includes Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota, as well as parts of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
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Drought Early Warning System

Missouri River Basin

In the Missouri River Basin (MRB), drought is a common climate event. Significant drought events occurred in the 1930s and 1950s that substantially affected water supplies, crops and livestock, energy, transportation of goods, and the ecosystem. More recently, a large-scale drought event occurred in 2012, which was unique in that it followed a devastating flood across the MRB in 2011. Leading up to the drought of 2012, many were expecting a second year of flooding, but what followed instead was a devastating drought event. The upper MRB was hit again in 2017 with a flash drought that was characterized by a rapid decline in soil moisture, low spring rainfall, high temperatures, and above-average wind speeds. Agricultural losses alone totaled in excess of $2.6 billion dollars. It was particularly the floods of 2011 and then the extreme and rapidly evolving drought in 2012 that emphasized the need for an early warning system that could not only improve how we anticipate drought events, but also improve collaboration and coordination of data and monitoring networks for floods in the Missouri Basin.

Primary contact: Molly Woloszyn, Acting Regional Drought Information Coordinator

Featured Missouri River Basin DEWS Activities

Regional Activities

Regional Activities Summary

The following table highlights activities in the Missouri River Basin 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

The 2017 drought was a rapid-onset event for northeast Montana, the Dakotas, and the Canadian Prairies during the spring and summer of 2017. It was the worst drought to impact the U.S. Northern…

Scope
Region
Key Partners
NOAA, Montana Climate Office, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, North Dakota State Climate Office, South Dakota State Climate Office, High Plains Regional Climate Center, USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub, NIDIS
Project Timeline
Dec
2017
May
2019
DEWS Components
Description

This meeting, which will be held on October 13–14, 2022 in Omaha, NE, will bring together partners from both the Midwest and 

Scope
Region
Key Partners
NIDIS, UCAR
Project Timeline
Oct
2022
Oct
2022
DEWS Components
Description

This project sought to develop drought adaptation plans for the Flandreau Santee Tribe and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. This project is unique in that it is sponsored in part by the Great Plains…

Scope
State
Key Partners
Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
Project Timeline
Jan
2017
Dec
2018
DEWS Components
Description

This project focused on developing drought adaptation plans for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe. This project is unique in that it is being sponsored in part by the Great Plains…

Scope
State
Key Partners
Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe
Project Timeline
Jan
2017
Dec
2018
DEWS Components
Description

A key need at the headwaters of the Upper Missouri River Basin is the improved technical capacity of state-designated drought task forces, such as the Montana Drought and Surface Water Supply…

Scope
Region
Key Partners
Montana Climate Office, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, U.S. Forest Service
Project Timeline
Ongoing
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 Missouri River Basin 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, so this list includes resources to submit conditions and/or impacts and view conditions.

Regional Data and Maps

NOAA and its partners publish regional reports each quarter, summarizing weather, impacts and predictions.

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

This website provides access to drought indices that are used by the Montana Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee (Monitoring Sub-Committee), though it covers the whole Upper Miss

WaterWatch is a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) World Wide Web site that displays maps, graphs, and tables describing real-time, recent, and past streamflow conditions for the United States.

The Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) is an experimental tool that examines how anomalous the atmospheric evaporative demand (E0; also known as "the thirst of the atmosphere") is for a given

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). 

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

NWS WPC produces Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts (QPFs) that depict the amount of liquid precipitation expected to fall in a defined period of time.

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

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) produces temperature and precipitation outlooks for the U.S., including 6-10 day, 8-14 day, monthly, and seasonal outlooks.

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

Grass-Cast indicates for ranchers and rangeland managers what productivity is likely to be in the upcoming growing season relative to their own county’s 34-year history.

This tool, available as part of The Climate Toolbox, provides a graphical summary of seasonal climate forecasts of temperature and precipitation for the next sever months for a selected location.

Communication + Outreach

An important component for drought early warning is communicating this information to stakeholders across the Missouri River Basin region who need this information in order to make more informed decisions. There are various ways drought information is communicated across the Missouri River Basin, including a monthly webinar series, a quarterly climate report, and the Missouri River Basin DEWS email list. There are also regional and state-specific communications that are available within the region.

Regional Communications Documents
Document Date
November 2019

Missouri River Basin Partners