Observation + Monitoring
Monitoring drought across the diverse climates of the Intermountain West DEWS region can be difficult. For example, a drought in the Sonoran Desert may look very different from a drought in the Wasatch Mountains. The Southwest counts on the summer monsoon while the Rocky Mountain regions rely on winter snowpack to get through the dry summer months. The Colorado River is the main water source for most of the Intermountain West, and winter snowpack in the Colorado Rockies usually sets the tone for drought conditions across most of the region from year to year. River forecasts across the Colorado River Basin are available through the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center.
Planning + Preparedness
Thoughtful preparations and effective policies can help communities cope with drought impacts when they happen. The states of the Intermountain West DEWS region all have plans for responding to drought. These have been produced by the state agencies responsible for the states' drought response and are linked on this page.
For other groups within the region (counties, cities, industry groups, farms, and businesses) that would like to create their own drought plan, we have included links to resources on this page. Or, contact the regional DEWS Coordinator, Joel Lisonbee, for some ideas on how to get started.
Prediction + Forecasting
Across the Intermountain West, the timing of precipitation or a dry spell is an important aspect of water resource management. When will drought start? How long could the drought last? When will the monsoon start? How long will this year's snowpack last? This section includes resources for drought prediction and forecasting across various time scales. The appropriate time scale will depend upon your local climate, local crop cycles, local water demand, and the types of decisions being made (tactical or strategic).
Communication + Outreach
NIDIS’s mission for the Intermountain West includes providing those affected by drought with the best available information and resources to better prepare for, mitigate, and respond to the effects of drought. This includes communication and outreach by NIDIS and our partners within the drought early warning network.
The resources here highlight upcoming events or communications tools (podcasts, videos, social media) that are relevant to the Intermountain West. Did we miss something? Let us know by emailing the Intermountain West DEWS Coordinator, Joel Lisonbee.
Research + Applications
The Intermountain West DEWS region has a strong research presence, which includes 17 research universities and two NOAA RISAs:
- The Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS)
- Western Water Assessment (WWA).
NIDIS is committed to working with researchers to better understand how drought impacts life in the Intermountain West and how to more effectively mitigate drought impacts in the future.