The beginning of the 2017/2018 winter season brought little rain and snow, giving rise to concerns about snow drought across the Western United States. Snow drought is defined as a period of abnormally low snowpack for the time of year, reflecting either below-normal cold-season precipitation (dry snow drought) or a lack of snow accumulation, despite near-normal precipitation (warm snow drought), caused by warm temperatures and precipitation falling as rain rather than snow, or unusually early snowmelt (AMS Glossary of Meteorology). The impacts of snow drought are often widespread, affecting ecosystems, reservoir levels and operations, water resource management, tourism, and winter recreation.
Above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation continued through February, increasing the demand for snowpack monitoring and snow water equivalent (SWE) data. It became clear that traditional hydrological drought data alone was not providing enough information to decision makers and resource managers.
In partnership with the National Drought Mitigation Center, visitors to the snow drought page are also invited to report impacts of snow drought from the 2018 water year (October 1 - present) to the Drought Impact Reporter, which will be shared with the states and regional DEWS affected in an effort to increase awareness and understanding of how snow drought impacts citizens and economies.
This new webpage is the product of a multi-agency collaborative effort to increase awareness of snow drought and its impacts, and provide the necessary tools and data to decision makers and resource managers who depend on reliable and accessible information to inform their decisions.
Partners involved in the development of new snow drought web page: