The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) began a partnership with NOAA and USDA in creating a new weekly drought intensity map back in 1999. Now, over 15 years and some 800 maps later and going strong, the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) has exceeded its goal of heightening awareness of drought in the U.S. and even extended this premise into a tri-lateral agreement to produce a monthly North American Drought Monitor, which launched in 2002 and is still operational today. The Drought Monitor web site (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu) brings in millions of visitors a year and the map is routinely disseminated by all the major media outlets (in all mediums), thus becoming the state-of-the-science in drought early warning and information system delivery in the United States.
Recent improvements in how the product is made, an ever growing network of expert ground-truthers in the field, and a melding of dozens of new, higher resolution tools and products in near real-time have changed the way we produce and deliver the UDSM services suite to our federal, tribal, state and local partners along with the media and general public. This presentation will lay out the process, people and policy implications involved as the USDM continues to evolve and adapt in order to meet our user's needs.