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Pacific Northwest DEWS Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar: December 13, 2021

Event Date
December 13, 2021
Event Time
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

The Pacific Northwest Drought Early Warning System 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).


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: Karin Bumbaco, Office of the Washington State Climatologist

  • ​​Overall, it was generally a warm and wet September–November:
    • Temperatures: It was the 2nd warmest September–November on record for Montana and the 6th warmest for Idaho (since 1895).
    • Precipitation: Washington had its 6th wettest September–November on record (since 1895).
  • November was especially warm, ranking between the 6th and 13th warmest for each of the four states, and precipitation was mixed.
  • Heavy precipitation in Washington and parts of Oregon led to major November flooding, and we can’t put the blame on La Niña for that one.
  • Snowpack is subpar throughout the Pacific Northwest, with a few exceptions.
  • There have been some drought improvements for the Pacific Northwest according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, mostly in Washington and Idaho.



Climate and Drought Outlooks

Speaker: Andrea Bair, NOAA/National Weather Service Western Region

  • El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Alert System Status: La Niña Advisory
  • La Niña conditions are present.*
  • Equatorial sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are below average across the central and east-central Pacific Ocean.
  • The tropical Pacific atmosphere is consistent with La Niña conditions.
  • La Niña is favored to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2021–22 (~95% chance) and transition to ENSO-neutral during spring 2022 (~60% chance during April–June).*
* Note: These statements are updated once a month (on the second Thursday of each month) in association with the ENSO Diagnostics Discussion.

Smoke Ready Communities

Speaker: Heidi Huber-Sterns, University of Oregon

  • Smoke Ready Communities: A community of interest where public health, environmental quality, researchers, and outreach educators routinely connect. 
  • Smoke Survey: A survey of how Oregon residents experienced 2020 smoke events is anticipated in early 2022.
  • Grant Opportunities: Small forestland and smoke management grant programs are seeking applicants.
  • Have smoke resources or questions about finding information? Contact



An Analysis of the Impact of Drought on Agriculture, Local Economies, Public Health, and Crime Across the Western United States

Speaker: Chris Goemans, Colorado State University

  • Goal: Develop a temporally and geographically generalizable approach to estimating drought impacts across a wide range of economic and non-economic sectors.
  • Impacts:
    • Agricultural Production
      • Higher temperatures and precipitation have a positive and statistically significant impact on total production; however, these effects are diminishing and become negative for conditions well above the mean.
      • Each additional month of extreme drought conditions (PDSI<-3) is associated with a decrease in total corn and wheat production of 3.2 and 3.6 percent, respectively.
      • Drought conditions that occur during the growing season have a much larger negative impact on total production than during the non-growing season.
    • Employment, Wages, and Number of Establishments
      • Severe drought leads to a small, but statistically significant decrease in the overall number of businesses. The negative effect is largely due to decreases in the recreation and entertainment, service, agricultural supply, and trade sectors.
      • For agriculture supply and agricultural, fishing, and hunting, each additional month of extreme drought is associated with a reduction in total wages of approximately 1.2 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
      • Each additional month of extreme drought reduces wages in the broader recreation and entertainment industry by 0.59 percent.
  • Read the report.