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Southwest Drought Briefing – A Focus on Snowpack: April 5, 2022

Event Date
April 5, 2022
Event Time
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

The Southwest has experienced an on-again, off-again winter snow pattern. As we prepare for the spring snowmelt, moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought persists across the region. This drought briefing focused on winter drought conditions and forecasts for spring for Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah. It also took a closer look at April 1 snowpack conditions along with a deeper dive into snow data and how this year's snowpack will translate into runoff and streamflow through spring.

For more information, please contact Joel Lisonbee (


Welcome to the Southwest Drought Update

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

  • Welcome to the April 2022 Southwest Drought Briefing, with a focus on snowpack. 
  • Learn more about the Southwest Drought Learning Network.
  • Acknowledgment of land.
  • View past webinar recordings at
  • Introduction of the speakers:
    • Dave Simeral, Desert Research Institute, Western Regional Climate Center 
    • Jordan Clayton, Utah Snow Survey, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
    • Paul Miller, Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, NOAA National Weather Service



Drought & Climate Update

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

  • Drought continues across the Intermountain West.
    • This is caused by a combination of low precipitation and high springtime temperatures.
  • Drought impacts include:
    • Very low reservoir storage prior to the typical filling season.
    • Drier (less green) vegetation compared to what is typical for this time of year.
  • Seasonal outlooks show that drought is highly likely to continue or develop through spring and perhaps longer based on forecast persistence of the current La Niña pattern



Western Snowpack Conditions

Speaker: Jordan Clayton | Utah Snow Survey, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

  • Southwestern U.S. snow water equivalent is below to well below normal for this time of the season.
  • Winter (January–February) 2022 set new records for low precipitation across the southwestern United States.
  • Snowpack projections show that most of the Southwest is likely to end the season with below-normal snowpack.



Colorado Basin River Forecast Center: Latest Forecasts and Updates

Speaker: Paul Miller | Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, NOAA National Weather Service

  • Colorado River inflow into Lake Powell has decreased by about 11% from the 1981–2010 period to the 1991–2020 period.
  • The latest forecasts are influenced by low soil moisture last fall and current snowpack conditions. 
  • The latest forecast for April–July total inflow into Lake Powell is expected to be around 64% of normal.



Questions & Answers

Speaker: Emile Elias | USDA Southwest Climate Hub