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Southwest Drought Briefing: April 18, 2023

Event Date
April 18, 2023
Event Time
1:00 pm - 1:35 pm

The Southwest has seen record-setting snowpack this winter. Short-term drought in the region has greatly improved. As we look forward to the spring melt, what will this mean for reservoir storage and long-term drought? This webinar examined current and forecast drought conditions for Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah and then highlighted the spring runoff and streamflow forecasts for the Colorado River Basin. 

For more information, please contact Gretel Follingstad (


Welcome to the Southwest Drought Briefing 

Speaker: Joel Lisonbee | Drought Information Coordinator, NOAA's National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS); Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)

  • Welcome to the April 2023 Southwest Drought Briefing.
  • Learn more about the Southwest Drought Learning Network
  • View past webinar recordings at
  • Introducing the speakers: 
    • Dave Simeral, Desert Research Institute and Western Regional Climate Center, Reno Nevada
    • Michelle Stokes, NOAA’s National Weather Service, Colorado Basin River Forecast Center



Current Conditions and Drought Outlook 

Speaker: Dave Simeral | Desert Research Institute and Western Regional Climate Center, Reno Nevada

  • The Southwest United States saw widespread improvements to drought conditions over winter.
  • Precipitation has been above average for the water year to date for most of the Southwest, and temperatures have been 5–10 ºF below average from October to March. 
  • Snow water equivalent (SWE) totals are well above average for this time of the season in most major river basins in the Southwest. Median SWE is currently at record levels in Utah. 
  • Soil moisture across much of the Southwest is above normal compared to long-term averages, except for a few dry pockets in areas of northwestern Nevada, central Utah, eastern Colorado, and northeastern New Mexico.
  • The seasonal outlook suggests a warm, dry pattern for April through June for Arizona and New Mexico. 



Colorado River Basin Conditions

Speaker: Michelle Stokes | Hydrologist in Charge, NOAA Colorado Basin River Forecast Center

  • The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center provides streamflow and water supply forecasts for the Colorado River Basin and the eastern Great Basin.
  • Current forecast ranges show the forecast water supply across the region is generally greater than 200% of normal. A few exceptions include the Colorado headwaters and Green River headwaters, which are close to the long-term average at this time of the season.
  • The latest water supply forecasts for unregulated inflow into Lake Powell show 11.3 million acre feet, or 177% of average inflow into Lake Powell over the April to July period. 
  • High snow water volumes have elevated the flood risk during this runoff season. 



Questions and Answers

Speaker: Gretel Follingstad | NOAA/NIDIS, CIRES