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Pacific Northwest DEWS Drought & Climate Outlook: February 22, 2021

Event Date
February 22, 2021
Event Time
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

The Pacific Northwest Drought Early Warning System (PNW DEWS) 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 (i.e., El Niño and La Niña).


Climate Recap and Current Conditions Summary

Speaker: Karin Bumbaco, Office of the Washington State Climatologist

  • This water year remains on the warm side, despite the recent cold February.
  • Water year precipitation is below normal in central Oregon and southern Idaho, and near normal to above normal in the rest of the region.
  • Mountain snow greatly improved in recent weeks, but some areas are still below normal.
  • The U.S. Drought Monitor continues to reflect the dry conditions of the 2020 water year and continued dryness during this water year.



Seasonal Conditions and Climate Outlook Summary

Speaker: Andy Bryant, National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office - Portland

  • La Niña moderates to ENSO-neutral this summer.
  • Temperatures: Below-average temperatures are likely for spring, and above-average likely for summer.
  • Precipitation: Near to above-average precipitation is likely for spring, and below-average likely for summer.
  • Mountain snowpack is likely to build through mid-spring.
  • Drought is likely to persist for much of Oregon, southern Idaho, and parts of western Montana.
  • Water supply forecasts are near to above-average in the north and below-average in the south.



Soil Management for Dry Farmed Vegetable Production

Speaker: Amy Garrett and Matthew Davis, Oregon State University

Big Takeaways for Farmers

  • Diligent weed management is especially important for dry farmers!
  • Don’t over-fertilize dry-farmed tomatoes. Too much fertility (from compost or nitrogen fertilizers) may result in increased BER.
  • Dust mulching (6 to 8 inches) did not significantly increase yield or quality of dry-farmed tomatoes compared to surface cultivation (2 to 3 inches).
    • Weed management and surface protection.
    • Less soil disturbance can improve soil health over time.
  • Leaf mulch had negative impact on dry-farmed tomato production.
    • This was only a one-year study,
    • Mulch was applied shortly after transplanting.
    • Two inches of rain fell after mulch was applied.
    • Multi-year studies and other mulches should be explored.



Winter Melt Trends Portend Widespread Declines in Snow Water Resources

Speaker: Keith Musselman, Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado-Boulder

  • Three times more stations have increasing winter snowmelt trends than snow water equivalent (SWE) declines.
  • Winter melt trends are highly sensitive to temperature and an underlying warming signal, while SWE trends are more sensitive to precipitation variability, which has a weaker climate change signal.
  • Recent stability of western U.S. SWE (since ~1980) will be followed by a period of accelerated decline once the current mode of natural climate variability subsides.
  • More winter snowmelt will complicate future water resources planning and management efforts.
  • We’re interested to hear what stakeholders are observing. How might more winter snowmelt affect operations?


Key Partners

We would like to thank Karin Bumbaco (Office of the Washington State Climatologist), Andy Bryant (National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office Portland) Amy Garrett and Matthew Davis (Oregon State University), and Keith Musselman (Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado-Boulder) for taking the time to present as part of the Pacific Northwest DEWS webinar series.