Reservoir levels low and persistent drought projected through March in much of the West, according to WGA and NOAA Outlook on weather and climate

December 21, 2012

Carlee Brown (WGA), (386) 559-0171 (mobile)
Katy Human (NOAA), (303) 497-4747

DENVER – The drought that made 2012 one of the driest years in the past century will likely persist across much of the West into March of 2013, according to the new Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook from the Western Governors' Association (WGA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

front of outlook report.Western Regional Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook

The Western Governors are focused on preparedness and resilience in the event of continued drought in 2013. Given the extent and severity of the current drought, WGA co-sponsored the National Drought Forum on December 12-13, 2012 in Washington, DC.

“Drought impacts next year could be far more severe, especially given that the reservoir storage in many basins has been depleted,” said Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, guest speaker at the event.

The Outlook combines maps, projections and other products that provide information to decision makers about current and likely future weather conditions. Among the features of this release is the latest version of the U.S. Drought Monitor, a map detailing the degree of severity of the drought across the West. Also included is a chart depicting reservoir storage in each of the Western states, which is below average for all states but Washington and Montana.

The Outlook is a quarterly publication that was developed by the WGA and NOAA following a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations in June 2011. WGA and NOAA have also co-sponsored two regional meetings, one in the Pacific Northwest and one in the Upper Missouri basin.

All of the maps and information presented in the Outlook are also available from NIDIS, or the National Integrated Drought Information System. NIDIS is hosted online at, where a series of drought information tools are available. Western Governors were instrumental to the passage of NIDIS in 2006. NIDIS is currently up for reauthorization by Congress.

NOAA has also produced a series of regional Outlooks that focus more closely on regions, including publications for the Central Region, the Southern Great Plains, and the Western Region.

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