Last week, the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) released the Southern Plains Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) 2021–2025 Strategic Action Plan. The Plan is designed to set priorities and suggest measurable actions that can create value in this drought-prone region, with the ultimate goal of improving stakeholder resilience during times of drought.
The development of the Southern Plains DEWS was initiated in 2011 during a record-setting drought across the southern tier of the United States. From 2010–2015, drought persisted throughout parts of the region, impacting portions of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. This drought cost several billion dollars and was considered a major disaster for the region.
Today, the Southern Plains region continues to face challenges brought about by drought and other extreme weather events that significantly affect communities and local economies. The Southern Plains DEWS provides leaders across sectors and levels of government with timely information on drought conditions, forecasted outlooks, and impacts to engender better informed and more timely decisions.
NIDIS identified the following three priorities for the next five years:
- Build resilience and mitigate economic, human health, ecological, and other costs of drought.
- Deliver earlier warning of drought.
- Improve or build a comprehensive understanding of drought impacts in the region.
Through this strategic plan, NIDIS is supporting its regional DEWS, where partner networks share information and actions that help communities cope with drought and improve long-term drought resilience. This supports the broader CPO goal of providing relevant and timely climate science information, tools, data products, and expertise to help inform effective decision making.