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Missouri River Basin DEWS region map with individual states highlighted: all of Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota, and parts of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wyoming
Site Section
Drought Early Warning System

Missouri River Basin

In the Missouri River Basin (MRB), drought is a common climate event. Significant drought events occurred in the 1930s and 1950s that substantially affected water supplies, crops and livestock, energy, transportation of goods, and the ecosystem. More recently, a large-scale drought event occurred in 2012, which was unique in that it followed a devastating flood across the MRB in 2011. Leading up to the drought of 2012, many were expecting a second year of flooding, but what followed instead was a devastating drought event. The upper MRB was hit again in 2017 with a flash drought that was characterized by a rapid decline in soil moisture, low spring rainfall, high temperatures, and above-average wind speeds. Agricultural losses alone totaled in excess of $2.6 billion dollars. It was particularly the floods of 2011 and then the extreme and rapidly evolving drought in 2012 that emphasized the need for an early warning system that could not only improve how we anticipate drought events, but also improve collaboration and coordination of data and monitoring networks for floods in the Missouri Basin.

Primary contact: Britt Parker, Regional Drought Information Coordinator

Regional Activities

Regional Activities Summary

The following table highlights activities in the Midwest that are ongoing efforts related to drought, involve multiple partners, serve as a unique way to address regional drought needs, and are related to at least one of the components of drought early warning. Please contact Britt Parker (britt.parker@noaa.gov) for more information about the table or to inquire about getting an activity added to the list.

DEWS Component Legend

Observation & Monitoring
 
Planning & Preparedness
 
Prediction & Forecasting
 
Communication & Outreach
 
Research & Applications

Select filters to browse DEWS Activities below

Description

In summer 2018, the Missouri Climate Center jointly with NDMC and NIDIS released the Missouri Extension Drought Impact Reporter. This effort collected over 100 impacts from on-the-ground weekly…

Scope
State
Key Partners
Missouri Climate Center, Missouri Extension, National Drought Mitigation Center, NIDIS
Project Timeline
Jun
2018
Sep
2018
DEWS Components
Description

This brief 2-page quarterly report provides a summary of the previous season's weather and climate, including any extreme events that occurred and the associated impacts. The report also provides…

Scope
Region
Key Partners
NOAA, American Association of State Climatologists, High Plains Regional Climate Center, USDA, NIDIS
Project Timeline
Ongoing
DEWS Components
Description

The Missouri Water Resources Plan will help to identify future shortfalls in water supplies, and explore options to address those water needs. This may include project recommendations such as new…

Scope
State
Key Partners
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Project Timeline
Ongoing
DEWS Components
Description

That state of Montana has just launched the planning process for developing a new drought adaptation and response plan. The current plan was last updated in 1997.

Key partners include the …

Scope
State
Key Partners
Montana Climate Office
Project Timeline
Jan
2020
Sep
2022
DEWS Components
Description

The NASA DEVELOP team seeks to generate a Composite Moisture Index (CMI) for the Upper Missouri River Basin. This composite metric will account for various aspects of moisture abundance across the…

Scope
Region
Key Partners
NASA DEVELOP, Montana Climate Office, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, NIDIS
Project Timeline
Ongoing
DEWS Components

Observation + Monitoring

When monitoring drought, it is important to look at data across the spectrum—from the atmosphere, land surface, and water availability below the surface. The list of data and maps below has been customized for the Missouri River Basin and provides a snapshot of conditions across that spectrum—including precipitation and temperature departure data, evaporative demand, streamflow, soil moisture, groundwater, and various derived indices for monitoring drought in the region. Monitoring for the impact of drought is also important, so this list includes resources to submit conditions and/or impacts and view conditions.

Regional Data and Maps

NOAA and its partners publish regional reports each quarter, summarizing weather, impacts and predictions.

The Integrated Water Portal is a map-driven data exploration and visualization tool that brings together water data from several agencies and allows users to quickly explore regional and local wate

This tool, available as part of The Climate Toolbox, provides maps and summary tables of different drought types, such as agricultural and meteorological drought, for a location in the contiguous U

This website provides access to drought indices that are used by the Montana Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee (Monitoring Sub-Committee), though it covers the whole Upper Miss

WaterWatch is a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) World Wide Web site that displays maps, graphs, and tables describing real-time, recent, and past streamflow conditions for the United States.

The Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) is an experimental tool that can serve as an indicator of both rapidly evolving "flash" droughts (developing over a few weeks) and sustained droughts (de

Planning + Preparedness

There is little that can be done to influence the weather patterns that cause drought, but preparatory actions and policies can help communities cope with drought impacts. Drought planning can ensure continuity of public services and quality of life. Drought planning can be done at the local and/or state level or integrated into existing plans (e.g., hazard mitigation planning, land-use planning). 

Regional Drought Planning Resources

Document Date
December 2019
Document Date
May 2019

Prediction + Forecasting

When will drought affect me? How long could it last? This section includes resources for drought prediction and forecasting on what could be ahead, including the short-term (e.g., 8-14 day forecast), seasonal to subseasonal (e.g., monthly), and future climate projections (e.g., mid-century). The appropriate time scale will depend upon how this information is being used (e.g., drought response, mitigation management action, long-term planning). Weather and climate prediction is an evolving science, as researchers continue to find ways to improve models and forecasting capabilities at various time scales.

Regional Forecasts and Outlooks

NWS WPC produces Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts (QPFs) that depict the amount of liquid precipitation expected to fall in a defined period of time.

This tool shows one-month projections for EDDI, which is an early warning guidance tool that is available for monitoring.

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) produces temperature and precipitation outlooks for the U.S., including 6-10 day, 8-14 day, monthly, and seasonal outlooks.

NWS provides a wide selection of forecast maps for temperature and precipitation for the next 12 hours to 6 days.

Grass-Cast indicates for ranchers and rangeland managers what productivity is likely to be in the upcoming growing season relative to their own county’s 34-year history.

This tool, available as part of The Climate Toolbox, provides a graphical summary of seasonal climate forecasts of temperature and precipitation for the next sever months for a selected location.

Communication + Outreach

An important component for drought early warning is communicating this information to stakeholders across the Missouri River Basin region who need this information in order to make more informed decisions. There are various ways drought information is communicated across the Missouri River Basin, including a monthly webinar series, a quarterly climate report, and the Missouri River Basin DEWS email list. There are also regional and state-specific communications that are available within the region.

Regional Communications Documents

Document Date
November 2019

Missouri River Basin Partners