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Pacific Northwest DEWS April Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar - April 26, 2021

Event Date
April 26, 2021
Event Time
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

According to the April 20, 2021 U.S. Drought Monitor, 56.6% of the Pacific Northwest Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) is in Moderate Drought (D1). Additionally, a pocket of Exceptional Drought (D4) was added to Oregon, the first time that state has had D4 since 2015. Snow conditions this winter have been good in Washington and northern Oregon, and average to below average throughout the rest of the Pacific Northwest. What's the outlook for the rest of spring into summer? This webinar featured current conditions and climate outlook, as well as presentations on the Fifth Oregon Climate Assessment Report and a demo of the redesigned

These webinars provide the region's stakeholders and interested parties with timely information on current and developing drought conditions as well as climatic events like El Niño and La Niña. Speakers also discuss the impacts of these conditions on things such as wildfires, floods, disruption to water supply and ecosystems, as well as impacts to affected industries like agriculture, tourism, and public health. 


Climate Recap and Current Conditions Summary

Speaker: Kelsey Jensco, Montana Climate Office

  • Temperature: It has been warmer than normal this Water Year.
    • In the last 30 days, warmer-than-normal temperatures have occurred in western Washington and Oregon, with cooler-than-normal conditions in Idaho and Montana.
  • Precipitation: The Water Year has been much drier in Oregon, Western Washington, and Southern Idaho.
    • In the last 30-60 days, the majority of the region has seen much-below-normal precipitation.
  • These conditions and recent deficits are contributing to:
    • Reduced soil moisture
    • Reduced streamflow
    • Expansion of drought conditions and impacts across the region.



Seasonal Conditions and Climate Outlook Summary

Speaker: Ryan Lucas, National Weather Service Northwest River Forecast Center

  • A dry March and April brought seasonal precipitation down across the basin. With a few exceptions, Water Year to date precipitation is below normal.
  • March and April were poor snow-building months. Snow melt is well under way in the southern domain and lower elevations.
  • Water supply forecasts for April-September:
    • Near normal in some areas but mostly below normal basin-wide.
    • Some exceptionally low volume forecasts in the southern part of our domain.



Overview of the 5th Oregon Climate Assessment

Speaker: Erica Fleishman, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, Oregon State University

  • The Oregon Climate Assessment is biennial and peer-reviewed.
  • Temperature: Oregon’s annual average temperature increased by about 2.2°F per century since 1895. If greenhouse gas emissions continue at current levels, temperature in Oregon is projected to increase on average by 5°F by the 2050s and 8.2°F by the 2080s, with the greatest seasonal increases in summer.
  • Precipitation: Precipitation is projected to increase during winter and decrease during summer. The number and intensity of heavy precipitation events, particularly in winter, is projected to increase throughout the twenty-first century. Furthermore, as temperatures warm, the proportion of precipitation falling as rain rather than snow in Oregon is projected to increase, especially at lower to intermediate elevations in the Cascade Range.
  • Snowpack and runoff: Snowpack throughout Oregon, especially on the west slope of the Cascade Range, is accumulating more slowly, reaching lower peak values, and melting earlier. These trends are likely to continue, and may accelerate, as temperature increases. Concomitantly, runoff is expected to begin and peak earlier in the year, decline in summer, and increase in winter, but will vary geographically.
  • Drought: Over the past 20 years, the incidence, extent, and severity of drought in the Northwest increased. These changes partially are attributable to human-caused climate change. As summers in Oregon continue to become warmer and drier, and mountain snowpack decreases, the frequency of droughts, particularly snow droughts such as those in 2014 and 2015, is likely to increase.



The Redesigned U.S. Drought Portal:

Speaker: Kelsey Satalino, NOAA/National Integrated Drought Information System, CIRES

  • The new, redesigned launched in January 2021, featuring new, interactive and shareable maps and up-to-date drought conditions from the city and county level to across the globe.
  • View local drought information down to the city and county level.
    • Enter your city or zip code on the home page or in the "By Location" section to view current conditions, key drought indicators, outlooks/forecasts, and historical information for your location.
    • City Page Example: Eugene, Oregon
    • County Page Example: Lane County, Oregon
    • State Page Example: Oregon
    • You can also view National Weather Service drought information statements for your local Weather Forecast Offices.
  • Interactive maps and data that show drought in new ways and are easy to share.
    • Example: Historical Data & Conditions page. This page displays three historical drought datasets side by side in an interactive graph and map: U.S. Drought Monitor (2000-present), Standardized Precipitation Index (1895-present), and paleoclimate data (0-2017).
    • Share maps by clicking "download a screenshot of this map." Or, share a permalink of the historical maps by clicking the "share/embed" button.
  • New “By Sector” section, showing drought impacts on different economic sectors.
    • Example: Wildfire Management Sector page, including a map of active wildfires, the National Weather Service's one-day fire outlook, and key resources for drought early warning in this sector.
  • Want to learn more? Watch this demo on YouTube for an overview of the new We'd love to hear your feedback on the new website. Email any questions or feedback to