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Pacific Northwest DEWS Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar: December 18, 2023

Event Date
December 18, 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's National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)



Climate Recap and Current Conditions

Speaker: Nick Siler| Oregon Climate Service

  • Drought conditions in the Pacific Northwest have improved since the start of the water year.
    • No regions are in Extreme/Exceptional Drought (D3–D4).
    • 6% of the Pacific Northwest is in Severe Drought (D2).
  • Most of the improvement in drought conditions came from a series of atmospheric rivers in early December.
    • Very warm conditions have led to relatively little snowpack accumulation.
  • Warmer-than-average temperatures are likely to persist through winter (likely due in part to El Niño).
    • This implies an elevated risk of snow drought.



Seasonal Conditions & Climate Outlook

Speaker: Andrea Bair | NOAA's National Weather Service Western Region

  • El Niño conditions are observed.*
  • Equatorial sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are above average across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean.
  • The tropical Pacific atmospheric anomalies are consistent with El Niño.
  • El Niño is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter, with a transition to ENSO-neutral favored during April–June 2024 (60% chance).* 
  • The current El Niño event in the tropical Pacific Ocean is considered strong, and could possibly rank among the strongest events historically by the end of winter.
  • The stronger an El Niño event is, the more likely we are to see typical weather patterns and impacts associated with El Niño. For much of the Pacific Northwest, this means there is a stronger chance for above-normal temperatures. Warmer temperatures elevate the risk of a possible snow drought.
  • The 3-month Seasonal Outlooks (January–March) for temperature and precipitation favor warmer-than-average temperatures for the Pacific Northwest. Odds are slightly tilted in favor of below-normal precipitation for eastern Washington and Oregon, northern Idaho, and western Montana.

* Note: These statements are updated once a month (2nd Thursday of each month) in association with the ENSO Diagnostics Discussion.



New Syntheses Relevant to the Northwest from the Fifth National Climate Assessment

Speaker: Erica Fleishman | Oregon State University

  • Over the past four years, knowledge of the inequitable effects of climate change across the Northwest has increased considerably. Federal and state climate adaptation efforts are explicitly seeking to support communities at risk.
  • As extreme events become more common, their potential effects on terrestrial and aquatic species and ecosystems are becoming better understood. Past and future land use strongly affects ecological capacity to adapt to climate change.
  • Across the Northwest, the transportation sector accounts for a much greater proportion of carbon dioxide emissions than other sectors. Electrification will reduce these emissions, but in the short term may stress the regional energy system and create inequitable cost burdens.
  • Extreme events can stress provision of physical and mental health care for the effects of those events and the availability of care for other needs. There is good potential for community-level and community-specific adaptation to the health effects of extreme events.
  • Read Chapter 27: Northwest.



New Baseflow Forecasts for Sites with  Real-Time Streamflow Across the U.S.

Speaker: Chris Konrad | U.S. Geological Survey's Washington Water Science Center




Speaker: Britt Parker, NOAA/NIDIS

  • Register now for the next webinar on Monday, February 26, 2024 at 11 a.m. PT.