The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Pacific Northwest (PNW) Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) Strategic Plan outlines priority tasks and activities to build drought early warning capacity and resilience. In October 2019, partners from across the PNW met in Portland, Oregon to discuss progress made since the 2017-2018 strategic plan and next steps. Discussions acknowledged the progress made to better communicate and collaborate in preparing for and responding to drought, and led participants to ask how the DEWS might further facilitate both information delivery and action to reduce drought impacts. The 2020 drought in the region resulted in greater coordination and collaboration between the states and exposed some additional needs, which NIDIS added to the plan.
NIDIS identified the following four priorities:
- Improve early warning by building an understanding of the drought indicators/indices used in the PNW to better demonstrate their value, limitations, and sector-specific, seasonal, and geographical applications.
- Increase understanding of drought impacts across sectors by building a robust drought impact reporting and analysis system to include citizen science monitoring programs.
- Improve communication across the partners in the PNW DEWS network as a key channel for disseminating drought information to the public and other regional DEWS.
- Increase the ability to share drought-related lessons learned both within and across DEWS, sectors, and tribal, state, and local agencies pertaining to drought preparedness and response.
The plan contains activities that the PNW DEWS network will initially focus on, organized by components of a drought early warning system. The network will use annual meetings to reassess priorities and direct action within the DEWS during the life of the plan.