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The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC), and the American Association of State Climatologists (AASC), hosted three Northeast Drought and Climate Outlook Forums as record-breaking drought expanded in the Northeast in 2016-2017. Participants included stakeholders from around the region and across federal, state, local, private, and nonprofit sectors.

The first forum in Boston in Ocotber 2016 addressed drought conditions in New England and New York, the impacts of the drought, existing response and preparedness resources, and climate outlooks for the coming seasons. As the drought continued and expanded southward in Connecticut and Rhode Island, NOAA, NIDIS, and the NRCC hosted two more meetings in New York (February 27, 2017) and Massachusetts (March 1, 2017). The purpose of these follow-up meetings was to assess the 2016 drought, understand the additional resources that would have strengthened drought resilience through the drought period, and identify what drought indicators and early warning capacity could be integrated into a Northeast Drought Early Warning System. 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. Discussion during the meetings suggested that there are several actions that could be taken to improve impact data collection, enhance observation and monitoring systems, and support drought preparedness and response in the region.

In this report, we present the opportunities and challenges participants identified, as well as the impacts of the 2016 drought and recommendations for better understanding and addressing drought in the future.