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Pacific Northwest DEWS Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar: February 26, 2024

Event Date
February 26, 2024
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.

For more information, please contact Britt Parker (


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 changed little since December
    • 10% of the region in Severe Drought (D2), according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
  • Precipitation and snowpack are close to normal in the south and below-normal in the north.
    • Warm temperatures in recent weeks have contributed to large snow deficits at lower-elevation sites, especially west of the Cascade crest.
  • Snowpack will increase this week across the region.
  • Longer-term, warm/dry conditions are likely.
    • Summer will likely begin with an elevated risk of drought.



Seasonal Conditions & Climate Outlook

Speaker: Arin Peters | NOAA's National Weather Service Western Region

  • The 10-day precipitation forecast is much higher than normal for much of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Spring 2024 is leaning warmer and drier than normal in the Pacific Northwest.
  • 120-day streamflow forecasts across the region range from well above to slightly below normal.
  • Northern Idaho and Western Montana will likely see drought conditions persist through the spring.
  • A transition from El Niño to La Niña conditions is expected by late summer 2024.

Snow Drought in the Pacific Northwest: The Role of Choosing and Processing Data 

Speaker: Ben Roberts-Pierel | Formerly of Oregon State University

  • Snow droughts have increased over the last 30 years—but not linearly—and vary widely across time, type, place, and dataset.
  • Point-to-grid comparisons of predictor variables (e.g., snow water equivalent, or SWE) show good agreement, but other spatial aggregations and snow drought conditions may (strongly) complicate the results.
  • Optical remote sensing data may not work well for identifying snow drought in early winter and may struggle to differentiate all but “severe” snow drought conditions, even later in the winter.



Filling the Gaps: Crowd-Sourcing Snow Information and a New Way to Think About Snow Storage 

Speaker: David Foster Hill | Oregon State University

  • “Casual” data from the public are of high value for high-resolution snowpack monitoring.
  • Publication: Changing snow water storage in natural snow reservoirs.
  • A novel snow metric, snow water storage (SwS), is used to characterize the natural reservoir function of snowpack, quantifying how much water is held in snow reservoirs and for how long. 
  • Despite covering only 16 % of U.S. land area, mountainous regions contribute 72% of the annual SwS. 
  • Recent decades show a 22% decline in annual mountain SwS. 
  • Flexible snow metrics such as SwS may become more valuable for monitoring and predicting water resources amidst a future of increased climate variability.
  • Consider thinking beyond “maximum snow” or “April 1 snow.”




Speaker: Britt Parker, NOAA/NIDIS

  • Register now for the next webinar on Monday, April 22, 2024 at 11 a.m. PT.