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Planning & Preparedness

Many different entities and organizations are responsible for drought preparedness and planning – including water resource agencies, water and energy utilities, farmers, land managers, community planners, city councils, emergency managers, and others. The NIDIS Engaging Preparedness Communities (EPC) initiative focuses on increasing drought resilience through engagement, collaboration, and networking. The EPC supports drought preparedness by:

  • Developing collaborations among researchers, stakeholders, and drought managers and planners to ensure that drought data and information are relevant and accessible to those who need and use it
  • Providing resources to assist drought planning efforts, such as sample drought plans, case studies, and best practice documents
  • Facilitating network building, information sharing, communications and outreach across different sectors and communities through activities such as workshops and webinars
  • Webinar: Introduction to the NIDIS EPC Working Group (March 30, 2011)

Projects and activities


Western States Drought Coordinators and Emergency Managers Meeting, July 20-21, Seattle, Washington.
This two day meeting brought together for the first time the individuals who serve as the lead coordinator for, or are heavily involved in the coordination of, drought-related activities from the 19 western states represented by the Western Governors Association (WGA). More than 60 people attended. Goals included identifying and addressing drought-related issues that cut across all western states; highlighting where states are working together and how interstate coordination can be improved; and sharing effective strategies, recent lessons learned and case studies of mitigation and response

Drought Impacts Monitoring Meeting, March 5-6, 2013, Tucson, Arizona.
Representatives from four NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) teams, NIDIS, the National Drought Mitigation Center, and the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) met in 2013 to explore the feasibility of creating a community of practice which could integrate activities related to drought impacts research and reporting. The workshop report (pdf) includes an evaluation of existing impacts-reporting tools and recommendations for the development of a comprehensive drought impacts reporting system. 

Building a Sustainable Network of Drought Communities, June 8-9, 2011, Chicago, Illinois.  
This workshop brought together drought and community planners. Participants shared lessons about drought planning strategies and discussed opportunities for developing a network of drought professionals. Find recordings and presentations from the meeting here.

Status of Drought Early Warning Systems in the U.S., June 17-19, 2008, Kansas City, Missouri.
A series of panel discussions on the drought monitoring and early warning needs of agriculture, energy, urban water suppliers, river system managers, protected lands, and tribes. Findings informed the implementation of NIDIS.


Teams of representatives from multiple sectors compete with each other to develope preparedness plans for a fictional water basin during a drought tabletop exercise.Drought tabletop exercises use a gaming forum approach to engage diverse participants in collaborative discussions about drought response. In these exercises, teams of representatives from multiple sectors (public water supply, agriculture, energy, industry, recreation, conservation) compete with one another to develop preparedness plans for a fictional water basin.

Oklahoma Drought Challenge, Sept. 17, 2014, Norman, Okla. 

Colorado Drought Tournament, Sept. 18, 2012, Denver, Colo.

Using Simulations to Plan and Prepare for Drought (Feb. 6, 2013) A webinar overview of the tournament/tabletop exercise approach, and how the tournaments fit into the objectives of NIDIS, and how drought tournaments can facilitate hazard mitigation planning. Colorado participants describe their experience in conducting a tournament.


EPC’s interactive webinars update planners, resource managers, and other drought stakeholders about drought planning resources and research.

Using NASA Tools to Manage Drought (June 4, 2014)
An introduction via webinar to NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) program and Applied Remote Sensing Training (ARSET) with discussion of how these tools can be used in drought preparedness and management.

The Planning and Drought report cover depicting a boy walking over a cracked lake bed. Planning and Drought (Feb. 12, 2014)
The American Planning Association, the National Drought Mitigation Center and NIDIS collaborated on this report, which connects mitigation resources with the planning practices of local, regional, and state governments.

Drought Impacts series  (Nov. 6, 2013; Dec. 4, 2013; Jan. 8, 2014)
Current research and applications for drought impacts.

  • The Missing Piece. Discussion of results of a workshop on drought impacts, and overview assessment of Arizona DroughtWatch.
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board’s Approach to Impacts Assessment. How the State of Colorado has incorporated impacts and vulnerability assessments into its drought preparedness and how that information has helped to shape mitigation actions and recommendations for current and future planning efforts.
  • Citizen Science Observation Networks. Cultivating a network of drought impact observers in the Coastal Carolinas; and how CoCoRaHS precipitation observers can submit drought impacts to NDMC’s Drought Impact Reporter (DIR). Includes a brief overview of the DIR.
  • Slide presentations from past events can be found here.