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 Pacific Northwest 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.
Planning + Preparedness
Droughts will continue to happen, and by understanding how they evolve and how sectors are impacted, states and communities can be better prepared. Whether planning at the state or local levels, proactive preparation and having tools that give those on the ground sufficient time to take action can minimize the economic and ecological damage of drought. Drought plans can be stand alone or integrated into existing plants (e.g., hazard mitigation planning, land-use planning). The states of the Pacific Northwest all have drought, water, hazard mitigation and climate change adaptation plans that include drought – some of which are currently being updated.
Prediction + Forecasting
There are many challenges to improved drought predictions and forecasting. Drought characteristics and physics must be understood in space and time for droughts to be predicted with skill. The more advanced warning that is given to water utilities, agriculture producers, fire managers, and communities, the more time they have to take action to reduce the impacts of drought. This section includes resources for drought prediction and forecasting across various time scales. 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.
Communication + Outreach
An important component for drought early warning is communicating this information to stakeholders across the Pacific Northwest region who need this information in order to make more informed decisions. There are various ways drought information is communicated across the Pacific Northwest, including a bi-monthly webinar series, a quarterly climate report, and the Pacific Northwest DEWS email list. There are also regional and state-specific communications that are available within the region.
Research + Applications
Research to better understand drought in the Pacific Northwest and its development, persistence, improvement, and interaction with other hazards is critical to providing timely and reliable information, products, and services in support of drought early warning. This page highlights research projects that are studying drought in the Pacific Northwest region, with support from NIDIS.