92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 2:45 PM
Assessing and Responding to the 2011 Southern Plains Drought From a Climate Services Perspective
Room 354 (New Orleans Convention Center )
David P. Brown, NOAA/NESDIS/NCDC, Fort Worth, TX; and R. Pulwarty, C. McNutt, and L. S. Darby
Manuscript (73.4 kB)

A drought of strong intensity and vast geographic extent was the dominant climatological event of 2011 in the south central United States. As early as November 2010, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center predicted an increased potential for drought formation across the southern U.S. consistent with the formation of a strong La Nina episode. Although La Nina typically produces conditions conducive to drought in this region, the rapid onset and extreme magnitude of the 2011 event could not have been anticipated, and is only partially explained by La Nina. The aggressive and intense nature of the drought, coupled with the fact that the observational record does not represent the full assortment of drought scenarios possible for this region, left many stakeholders in the south central U.S. struggling to prepare for and respond to the drought's impacts. To better identify opportunities for the coordination and delivery of drought information between providers, such as the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), and the user community, an assessment forum was held in Austin TX in July 2011. Representatives from over 40 local, state, and federal institutions representing water resources, agriculture, livestock, forestry, wildfire management, and other interests were in attendance and received detailed assessments of drought conditions and impacts, historical comparisons to past events, and predictions for upcoming seasons. The forum also provided guidance to NOAA and NIDIS, via stakeholder panel discussions, on both best practices and specific pilot projects that can improve drought information delivery for proactive decision-making in this region.

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