Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Site Section
News & Events

California-Nevada Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar: May 22, 2023

Event Date
May 22, 2023
Event Time
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

According to the May 16 U.S. Drought Monitor, only 12.6% of California/Nevada is in drought, down from 99% at the start of the water year (October 2022). Drought primarily remains now in parts of southeastern California and southern Nevada, which did not receive above-normal precipitation. In Nevada, end of April observations reported that reservoirs were at 33% of capacity, which is 59% of average. Many of California’s major reservoirs are near or above historical averages. This webinar provided an overview of the current conditions and outlooks as well as wildland significant fire potential outlooks for the Great Basin and Central/Southern California and an overview of the new improved and expanded state pages on

The California-Nevada Drought Early Warning System May 2023 Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar is part of a series of regular drought and climate outlook webinars designed to provide stakeholders and other interested parties in the region with timely information on current drought status and impacts, as well as a preview of current and developing climatic events (e.g., El Niño and La Niña).


Welcome to the California-Nevada Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar

Speaker: Amanda Sheffield | NOAA's National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), CU Boulder/Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)



Drought and Climate Update

Speaker: Julie Kalansky | California Nevada Adaptation Program (CNAP, a NOAA CAP/RISA Team), CW3E, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

  • U.S. Drought Monitor change since the start of the water year has been 1–5 classes due to 31 atmospheric rivers over a wet and cool winter.
  • Snowmelt signals are clear, but the Sierra snowpack remains above normal.
  • In the Colorado River Basin, Lake Powell and Lake Mead storage has increased. 
  • The outlook's focus is on temperature and its role in snowmelt. June shows equal chances of below-normal, normal, and above-normal temperatures for the region, and above-normal conditions for June-July-August. 



Great Basin Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook

Speaker: Gina McGuire Palma | Great Basin Coordination Center

  • Favorable winter conditions and recent additional moisture have led to less drought in the region. 
  • Big improvements to drought have implications for fire season, including improved soil moisture and fine fuel growth, especially at low elevations. 
  • Expecting a prolonged green up, with fine fuel growth to continue through the next month. Expecting a delay to the active fire season and a shorter season, at least at the beginning. 
  • Waiting for the pattern to shift and when drying out occurs, focusing on the latter half of July and August. 
  • The National Interagency Fire Center's Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook shows above-normal potential in northwest Nevada in areas that did not have quite as much precipitation and do have carryover fuels from last year.



Central/Southern California Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook

Speaker: Matt Shameson | Southern California Coordination Center

  • Forecasts show near to above-normal rainfall and below-normal temperatures into July.
  • The marine layer over the coastal areas will be deeper than normal into July.
  • The monsoon will start later than normal, but once it starts, expect near- to above-normal shower and thunderstorm activity.
  • Temperatures will warm to near normal in late July through September as computer models expect sea surface temperatures off the West Coast to warm.
  • Near to below-normal large fire activity is expected across the lower elevations due to the deep marine layer and below-normal temperatures well into the summer, even with heavy fine fuel loading.
  • Well-below-normal large fire activity over the mountains is expected due to the well-above-normal snowpack and then a near- to above-normal monsoon in late summer.
  • It is still too early to know how the Santa Ana season for next fall will shape out, but there will likely be early rains due to a moderate to strong El Niño.



Improved and Expanded State Pages on

Speaker: Kelsey Satalino | NOAA/NIDIS, CU Boulder/CIRES

  • In April, NIDIS launched updated and expanded state pages on, in collaboration with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information and state partners.
  • The new state pages provide one-stop shop for state drought information, including interactive and easily shareable maps, statistics, and resources for all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands
  • Key features:
    • New interactive maps featuring key drought indicators, outlooks/forecasts, and historical information at the state level, with easy access to county-level data
    • Customization & sharing options for every map – just click the download icon in the top left corner of any map to customize the display, compare drought & climate data, and download high-quality map images.
    • Highlighted state government drought resources
    • Resources to stay up to date on local drought information
  • Explore state pages for California and Nevada.
  • Questions or feedback? We’d love to hear from you at




Speaker: Amanda Sheffield | NOAA/NIDIS, CU Boulder/CIRES

  • Register now for the next webinar in this series on Monday, July 24, 2023.