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Monitoring, Predicting, and Communicating Flash Drought in your Region: October 17, 2023

Event Date
October 17, 2023
Event Time
10:00 am - 11:00 am

This webinar provided local and regional perspectives on approaches for monitoring, predicting, and communicating flash drought, including an overview of the 2023 flash drought in the Midwest. Specifically, it reviewed how flash drought is identified (and noted regional variations), tools for monitoring and predicting flash drought, and guidance for communicating the risk of flash drought. Further, this webinar recapped key takeaways from the 2nd National Flash Drought Workshop, which took place in May 2023.



Speakers: Meredith Muth, National Integrated Drought Information System; Maggie Hurwitz, National Weather Service

  • This is the second in a five-part webinar series, "Strengthening the NWS Drought Toolbox," co-organized by the National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).
  • The purpose of this webinar series is to support NWS field office staff, operational meteorologists, climatologists and hydrologists, to embed new drought tools, products, and insights into local and regional drought services.  



Key Findings from the 2nd National Flash Drought Workshop

Speaker: Sylvia Reeves, NOAA/NIDIS, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)/University of Colorado Boulder

  • The 2nd National Flash Drought Workshop, hosted by NIDIS, was held on May 2–4, 2023, with the intention to bring together the flash drought research community and practitioners to learn from one another, build stronger connections, and increase coordination.
  • Priorities for the flash drought community to tackle over the next few years include the following:
    • Improve indicators to diagnose flash drought depending on region, season and impacted sectors.
    • Increase the understanding of unique characteristics, predictability, and risk of flash drought amid rapid transitions between hydrological extremes and with the expectation that we must address our non-stationary climate.
    • Identify innovative solutions and proactive measures for flash drought planning, communication, mitigation and response.
    • Continue collaboration, coordination, and communication including another workshop (after a period of time that allows for additional research and tools).
    • Acknowledge that flash drought is a type of drought and that many existing drought tools and indicators can be widely applied.
  • More information:
  • For more information, contact Sylvia Reeves.



Monitoring, Predicting, and Communicating Flash Drought: Local Weather Forecast Office Perspective (Midwest)

Speaker: Jeff Boyne, NWS La Crosse, WI



Regional Messaging During the 2023 Midwest Drought

Speaker: Molly Woloszyn, NOAA/NIDIS, CIRES/CU Boulder

  • Regional messaging was disseminated through Midwest Drought Early Warning System Drought Status Updates (DSU), which are distributed to over 1,000 partners.
  • DSUs provide a cohesive regional message, developed with regional partners, around the potential for drought development or intensification.
  • Key elements of the messaging include recent trends in the region, the current status and impacts from drought, outlook information, and potential impacts based on the outlook.
  • View the Midwest Drought Early Warning Update from May 2023.
  • For more information, contact Molly Woloszyn.



Climate Prediction Center's Week-2 Hazards Rapid Onset Drought Risk

Speaker: Adam Hartman & Brad Pugh, NWS Climate Prediction Center

  • Climate-driven changes to meteorology may constrain prescribed fire use in the Southeast and hinder planned expansions of prescribed burning in other regions.
  • Changes to acceptable burning conditions could yield more burn days, but careful analysis of impacts is needed, especially with respect to vulnerable populations. 
  • Southeast burners will try to consolidate burning but recognize they will likely have to burn less and/or adopt other methods.
  • Many are concerned about climate change impacting their practices, but resource needs are largely similar regardless of climate.
  • Altered fire activity scenarios and current burning levels could affect compliance with strengthened PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in several areas.
  • Future prescribed fire use and smoke pollution in the Southeast will depend on the conditions and trade-offs deemed acceptable or necessary.
  • or more information, contact Brad Pugh.



Soil Moisture Developments and Resources for Flash Drought

Speaker: Marina Skumanich, NOAA/NIDIS

  • Soil moisture is a critical drought indicator, providing early warning for flash drought.
  • Soil moisture is important because it
    • Is a good indicator of agricultural and ecological impacts.
    • Integrates the effects of both precipitation and evaporative demand.
    • Has a low “false positive” rate (less likely to provide early indication of a flash drought in cases where the flash drought doesn’t happen).
  • Some considerations:
    • There is uneven distribution of in situ monitoring across the country.
    • There is a reliance on models / remote sensing to provide a picture of conditions.
    • These require some experience to fully interpret.
  • Resources: 
    • Soil Moisture overview page on Gateway to a range of soil moisture maps and tools.
    • Soil Moisture Product Dashboard on Allows users to customize the area of interest and toggle between different maps.
    • Also, stay tuned for specific flash drought tools based directly on soil moisture. Some are in development, and NIDIS will communicate once available!
  • For more information, contact Marina Skumanich.




Speaker: Meredith Muth, National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)