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Pacific Northwest DEWS Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar: April 24, 2023

Event Date
April 24, 2023
Event Time
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

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.


Webinar Introduction

Speaker: Britt Parker, NOAA/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS); Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)



Climate Recap and Current Conditions

Speaker: Nick Bond, Office of the Washington State Climatologist

  • In an overall sense, the Pacific Northwest experienced a cool and dry winter, with east- and south-facing slopes being wetter. The spring so far has been colder than normal.
  • High-elevation snowpacks are in decent shape in the north, and good shape in the south. From a drought perspective, the most problematic areas are in eastern Oregon, northern Idaho, and northwestern Montana.
  • The regional atmospheric circulation featured an anomalous upper-level trough centered over the northern Sierra Nevada mountains.



Seasonal Conditions & Climate Outlook

Speaker: Geoffrey Walters, National Weather Service Northwest River Forecast Center

  • Precipitation this water year has been below normal.
  • A cold temperature anomaly has persisted through the winter.
  • Snowpack is above normal.
  • Soil conditions have been dry.
  • Water supply forecasts are being negatively impacted by the soil conditions.
  • June and July are the two months with the most runoff uncertainty.



Observing and Understanding Atmospheric Rivers

Speaker: Alison Cobb | Center For Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E), University of California, San Diego

  • The importance of Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) – they bring most of the U.S. West Coast precipitation.
  • There is a huge range of observations out there. Observations are used to:
    • Improve forecasts (data assimilation)
    • Improve understanding (science questions)
  • Atmospheric River Reconnaissance (AR Recon):
    • Run in the winter season, in the Northeast Pacific
    • Typically deploys dropsondes, radiosondes, drifting buoys
  • Read the paper: Atmospheric River Reconnaissance 2021.



Twenty-First Century Hydroclimate: A Continually Changing Baseline, With More Frequent Extremes

Speaker: Samantha Stevenson | University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Climate-driven trends in soil moisture are so large that what we used to think of as “exceptional” drought will soon be simply “normal.”
  • Extreme rainfall will increase in the future—even relative to the “new normal.”
  • Read the paper.



Conclusion and Q&A

Speaker: Britt Parker, NOAA/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS); Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)