The U.S. Drought Monitor classifies current drought conditions across the nation by consolidating information from drought indicators, water data, and local observations into a comprehensive national map. Learn how
“Drought” evokes images of dried up lakes and rivers. It doesn’t often conjure up images of poor air quality. But a lack of water can affect regional air quality in a number of ways, too. Find out why
Drought Forum Year-One Report: Executive Summary
Nevada Drought Forum
Building on the success from the first year of the Western Governors' Drought Forum, Governor Sandoval established the Nevada Drought Forum to bring together stakeholders and water managers across the state to assess the drought in Nevada, identify best practices and policy needs, and make next step recommendations to the Governor. MP3 recordings of the meetings are available on the website, in addition to a list of best practices identified.
Snow Monitoring Programs
Measuring Snow to Predict Water Supply
Snow survey data provides critical information on snow pack conditions and projected water availability to water managers throughout the West.
Want to learn more about how snow data is collected and used to forecast water supply? Watch this video on the Snow Survey Program produced by the United States Department of Agriculture
NASA Airborne Snow Observatory
NASA, in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, developed the Airborne Snow Observatory to measure snow water equivalent and albedo using an airplane mounted imaging spectrometer and scanning lidar system.
Mapping the extent of drought is critical to helping water managers make on-the-ground decisions regarding water resource managment, allocation and curtailment. Regional drought mapping, in concert with other data assimilation, helps portray the scope and magnitude of drought conditions. Below is a sample of mapping products available to guide water management decisions.
- United States Drought Monitor: A summary of conditions across the United States.
- Drought Risk Atlas: A tool to visualize and assess drought risk via historical drought information.
- Western Landscapes Explorer: This GIS-based map viewer allows users to explore data and maps related to water, wildlife, soil characteristics, and land ownership.
- United States Seasonal Drought Outlook: Provides a seasonal outlook on drought conditions across the country based on large scale trends.
- Drought Impact Reporter: This interactive mapping tool is the only nationwide, multi-source archive of drought impact information.
- VegDRI: The Vegetation Drought Response Index is a bi-weekly depiction of vegetation stress across the contiguous United States.
- Drought Indices Blending: A set of experimental maps that blend various drought indices, precipitation amounts and soil moisture conditions to display both long-term and short-term drought conditions across the United States.
- Google Earth Engine: The Google Earth Engine brings together over 40 years of Landsat satellite imagery to map trends in land use and water resource availability.
Fact Sheets on Drought
Learn more about drought and its impacts with these fact sheets produced by a variety of organizations.
- Tourism, Recreation and Drought in Colorado: Severe drought in Colorado reduced recreation revenue by $1.7 billion in 2002. Learn more about drought's impact on recreation and tourism and how planning can minimize those impacts.
- National Weather Service Drought Fact Sheet: Drought comes in many forms. Learn about the types of drought and how they are measured and mapped.
- American Water Works Association Drought Fact Sheet: Learn how the different stages of drought impact water suppliers and the variety of approaches that utilities take to mitigating drought's impact on water supply.
Precipitation and Streamflow Monitoring
Tracking real-time precipitation and streamflow conditions is essential to monitoring drought on the ground. Though hydrologic drought is influenced by a long-term lack of precipitation, decisions regarding vegetative drought can be informed by recent precipitation conditions and streamflow.
- USGS WaterWatch: Provides an in-depth look at current drought conditions, streamflow and flooding across the United States. The tool allows users to zoom in to specific states and view real-time information and daily hydrographs on individual gauges in specific watersheds.
- CoCoRaHS: The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is a crowd-sourced network of volunteer reported precipitation measurements across the United States.
The American Water Works Association report "2014 Water Shortage Preparedness Report" reflects analysis of 485 water utility responses to a survey regarding utility practices and policies for water shortage planning and implementation.
The NOAA Drought Task force report "Causes and Predictability of the 2011 to 2014 California Drought" looks into weather conditions that are key to explaining the drought and the extent to which the drought could have been predicted.
State Drought Plans
Here's a look at drought plans prepared by states:
Arizona Drought Preparedness Annual Report
California Drought Contingency Plan
Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response Plan
Hawaii Drought Plan
Idaho Drought Plan
Kansas Drought Operations Plan
Montana Drought Response Plan
Nebraska Drought Mitigation and Response Plan
State of Nevada Drought Response Plan
New Mexico Drought Plan
North Dakota Drought Contingency Plan
Oklahoma Drought Management Plan
Drought Annex: Oregon State Emergency Operations Plan
Texas State Drought Preparedness Plan
Utah Drought Response Plan
Washington State Drought Contingency Plan
Wyoming Drought Plan
Be It Resolved ...
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has adopted a resolution that acknowledges the Western Governors' Drought Forum. After noting the many aspects of the central initiative of WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, the NARUC board "endorses the WGA Drought Forum and urges NARUC members to cooperate in identifying case studies and best practices on drought policy, preparedness and management to mitigate the impact of drought on communities, economies, and the environment." Read, download the resolution
Listen to a radio show, titled “Water is Life,” produced by youth organizations Nuestro Rio and Generation Justice. The hour-long show provides commentary on drought and the necessity for water conservation in New Mexico and features interviews with participants of the January 28-29 Drought Forum meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Western Governors’ Drought Forum initiative is being conducted in partnership with NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System.