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About the Northeast DEWS

Map of the Northeast DEWS including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York.

The Northeast DEWS is a collaborative federal, regional, state, and local interagency effort to improve drought early warning capacity and enhance long-term drought resilience throughout New England and New York.  Early warning activities are driven by the needs of local and state stakeholders for data collection and monitoring; research to improve forecasting of droughts; planning for and adapting to extreme weather events; and communication, education, and outreach.

NIDIS and its partners launched the Northeast DEWS in November 2017. The Northeast DEWS consists of the areas including New England and the state of New York.  Known best for the autumn foliage, thick forests, rocky soils, and abundant freshwater resources, the northeastern United States is characterized by a diverse climate that is not often associated with drought. However, in 2016, New York and New England experienced historic drought conditions not seen since the 1960s. In the hardest-hit areas of western and central New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and southern New Hampshire, drought conditions intensified during the summer of 2016, with extreme drought (D3) introduced for the first time since U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) data began in 2000. The Northeast also frequently experiences “flash” droughts - short-term intense dry periods that can follow a period of normal to above-normal precipitation. These flash droughts have profound impacts on a local region and can last only 2-4 months; but they result in shortages in public water supplies and very low streamflows.

Specific goals of the Northeast DEWS include:

  • Provide a forum for a diverse group of federal, tribal, state, and local stakeholders that represent all economic sectors, including water and land resource management, to develop appropriate, relevant, useful, and readily available drought, climate, weather, and water-related information
  • Develop a regional understanding of the existing observation and monitoring networks, data, tools, research, and other planning and mitigation resources available for a drought early warning system
  • Identify the economic sector-specific and geographic needs for future monitoring, prediction, planning, and information resources.

Northeast DEWS Strategic Plan

Read the Northeast DEWS Strategic Plan

This plan provides a framework of priority actions to further develop and implement the DEWS in the Northeast over the next two years (2018-2019).

The Northeast DEWS Strategic Plan builds upon existing stakeholder networks and activities to improve drought early warning capacity and long-term resilience in New England and New York. The Plan outlines priority tasks and activities for the implementation of the Northeast DEWS, including a list of partners, outcomes, and key milestone dates.  The Plan is a “living document” to which additional actions and partners may be added as needs and opportunities arise.


  • Northeast Drought and Climate Outlook Forum (2016) - NIDIS, in partnership with NOAA’s Regional Climate Services Director for the Eastern Region, the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC), U.S. Representative Seth Moulton’s (MA-6) office, and the American Association of State Climatologists (AASC), hosted a Northeast Drought and Climate Outlook Forum in Boston, Massachusetts on October 11, 2016. The forum brought together nearly 100 stakeholders from around the region and across federal, state, local, private, and nonprofit sectors to discuss drought conditions in New England and New York, the impacts of drought, existing response and preparedness resources, and climate outlooks for the coming seasons. Click here for a two-page summary of the meeting.

  • Northeast Drought Assessment and Building Early Warning Capacity Meetings (2017) - As the 2016 drought continued and expanded into Connecticut and Rhode Island, NOAA, NIDIS, and the NRCC hosted two more meetings in New York (February 2017) and Massachusetts (March 2017). The purpose of these meetings was to assess the 2016 drought, understand the additional resources that would have strengthened drought resilience, and identify what drought indicators and early warning capacity could be integrated into a Northeast DEWS.  More than 100 community leaders, representing sectors from water resource management and agriculture to local government and community watershed groups, shared insights on information gaps they experienced. Click here for a summary of the post-drought assessment workshops.

  • Northeast DEWS Strategic Plan Workshop (2017) - In November 2017, stakeholders from each of the New England states and New York came together to outline a two-year strategic plan for a regional DEWS in the Northeast.  Agenda items included: a history of drought and extreme weather in the region; an overview of current conditions and outlooks; state and local drought planning, policies, and activities; strategies for enhancing drought early warning capacity; identification of data and information needs, gaps, and vulnerabilities; and identifying and prioritizing actions towards a regional DEWS.  Click here to read the 2018 - 2019 Northeast DEWS Strategic Plan.