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Southwest Drought Briefing

Event Date
January 22, 2021
Event Time
11:00 am - 11:30 am

Nearly 40% of the Southwestern United States is currently experiencing the most severe drought classification (D4) conditions. On January 12, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated that all of the Southwest was experiencing drought and drought is expected to continue throughout the winter and into spring. This webinar will provide an update of current drought conditions and forecasts for Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada followed by a demonstration of the Collaborate Conservation and Adaptation Strategy Toolbox (CCAST), which provides case studies on how communities and individuals have successfully responded to past drought.


Welcome and Introduction

Speaker: Emile Elias, Director, USDA Southwest Climate Hub

  • This webinar is a collaborative effort. I'd like to acknowledge and thank the collaborators in producing this webinar, including:
    • National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)
    • Western Regional Climate Center and Desert Research Institute
    • Drought Learning Network



Current Conditions and Outlook

Speaker: David Simeral, Associate Research Scientist, Desert Research Institute and Western Regional Climate Center

  • Current drought status: 98% of the Intermountain West is currently experiencing drought, and drought is expected to persist into the spring/summer months.
  • Observed drought indicators:
    • Below-normal precipitation (Water-Year-to-Date) across most of the southwestern U.S.
    • Below-normal snowpack conditions are present across nearly all drainage basins in the region.
    • Reservoir Storage Conditions (state-averaged) are below-normal in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and above-normal in Arizona and Utah.
  • Observed drought impacts: agricultural, poor air quality, ecosystem, water resources, snow drought, and elevated fire danger.
  • Forecasts and outlooks:
    • A series of winter storms events will impact the Intermountain West region during the week ahead (January 23-29, 2021, potentially producing significant snowfall accumulations (>12”) across various mountain ranges in the region.
    • Seasonal outlooks suggest drought conditions will persist through spring.



Collaborate Conservation and Adaptation Strategy Toolbox

Speaker: Skye Aney, Extension Team Program Manager, Jornada Experimental Range, NM State University/USDA Southwest Climate Hub

  • The Collaborative Conservation and Adaptation Strategy Toolbox (CCAST) is a multi-organizational partnership directed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation and staffed by a growing network of coordinators and Case Study authors. 
    • A platform for syntheses and decision-support tools
    • A central location to share and learn from Case Studies
    • An outlet for conservation professionals to highlight their work.
  • To suggest a project or management effort for a case study, email Skye Aney at (DLN/drought community of practice), or visit the CCAST website for a full listing of CCAST team contacts.




Speaker: Emile Elias, Director, USDA Southwest Climate Hub

  • Our next Southwest Drought Briefing is in one month, on February 19, from 11-11:30 am Mountain Time.
  • This webinar will include another briefing and a talk about the new