J22.2 California Drought: Assessment and Action

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 12:00 AM
Room 242 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Kevin Werner, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD

NOAA has a history dating back to 1957 of conducting formal service assessments to improve its weather forecast and warning program for weather phenomena including tornadoes, floods, storms, and hurricanes. Despite drought being the most costly natural disaster in the US, the first NOAA service assessment focusing on drought was conducted in 2014-2015 on the California drought. This assessment was released in May 2015. It describes decisions impacted by drought in the water resources, agriculture, and fisheries, and identifies recommendations for NOAA to improve the science based services it provides to those sectors. This assessment was conducted by a ten member team of diverse NOAA staff as well as the California State Climatologist. The team's findings and recommendations were based on mostly in person interviews conducted with over 100 decision makers in the key sectors.

Since the report's release, NOAA has begun to take action in a number of areas consistent with the recommendations in the report. In particular, NOAA is working with the Western States Water Council and with California's Department of Water Resources to design and scope an initiative to improve seasonal forecasting. NOAA is also working to improve communication of El Nino events in the region and to document impact of the current El Nino. NOAA is also working to develop a water resources monitor and outlook initially focused on the western US. All of these things are motivated by the recommendations of the service assessment.

This talk will describe the service assessment as well as NOAA actions to respond to its assessment.

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