Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Site Section
News & Events

Intermountain West Drought Briefing: January 9, 2024

Event Date
January 9, 2024
Event Time
1:00 pm - 1:35 pm

Thirty-six percent of the Intermountain West Drought Early Warning System region is in drought, with parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado in Moderate to Extreme Drought (D1-D3) and Exceptional Drought (D4) in New Mexico.

This webinar examined current conditions for the Intermountain West and the forecasted drought conditions for Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.  There was also  a special presentation on the Water Adaptation Techniques Atlas.

For more information, please contact Dr. Gretel Follingstad (


Welcome to the Intermountain West Drought Briefing 

Speaker: Laura Haskell | Utah Department of Natural Resources – Division of Water Resources

  • Welcome to the January 2024 Intermountain West Drought Briefing:
    • View past webinar recordings at
    • Introducing the speakers: 
      • Current Conditions & Drought Outlook: David Simeral, Desert Research Institute
      • Water Adaptation Techniques Atlas: Noah Silber-Coats, USDA Southwest Climate Hub
  • Read the latest Western Snow Drought Status Update.



Southwest Current Conditions and Drought Outlook 

Speaker: David Simeral, Desert Research Institute (DRI), Western Regional Climate Center

  • According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 42.63% of the region (Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado) is in drought with most of the drought coverage centered on Arizona, New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado.
  • El Niño conditions are present and expected to continue through the winter and transition to ENSO-neutral during April–June 2024 (60% chance).
  • Historical El Niño winter precipitation patterns tend to favor wetter-than-normal winters in the region; however, Water Year to Date (since October 1) precipitation has been below normal across much of the region.
  • During the past 30-day period, precipitation has been near to above normal in some areas of the region, including areas of northern Nevada, southern and northeastern Arizona, much of New Mexico, eastern and north-central Colorado, and north-central and east-central Utah.
  • Since the beginning of the Water Year, average temperatures have been above normal with the greatest anomalies recorded in southern Arizona, southwestern and north-central New Mexico, southwestern Colorado, and southern Nevada. Some notable anomalies: Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport logged the warmest October–December period on record, Las Vegas had its warmest December on record, and Reno had its the second warmest December and October–December periods on record.
  • Snowpack conditions have been well below normal levels across much of the region with some improvement occurring from recent storms in early January. 
  • At a regional level, as of January 8, 2024, the percent of median snow water equivalent (SWE) levels were as follows: Upper Colorado 68%, Lower Colorado 53%, Rio Grande 76%, Great Basin 68%, Arkansas-White-Red 73%, and Missouri 58%.
  • Despite the warmer temperatures and below-normal precipitation, reservoir conditions in northern Utah, much of Colorado, northern Nevada, and central Arizona are in good shape due to carryover from last season’s above-normal snowpack and runoff. Lake Powell and Mead remain at well normal levels; however, they’re in better condition than the same time one year ago at the end of December 2022. Moreover, poor conditions persist in the reservoirs along the Rio Grande Basin in New Mexico.



Special Presentation: Water Adaptation Techniques Atlas

Speaker: Noah Silber-Coats | USDA Southwest Climate Hub



Questions & Answers

Speakers: Dr. Gretel Follingstad | NOAA/NIDIS, CIRES/CU Boulder