The U.S. Drought Monitor information is taken as gospel by the media and by local agencies and state governments. For example, the latest Oregon State Weekly Drought Report repeats the U.S. Drought Monitor information as if it is true.
The trouble is that virtually all factual, objective information (e.g., snowpack, precipitation, soil moisture, and reservoir levels) suggest just the opposite: the drought is over.
This really bothers me. Here we have an official U.S. government entity hyping drought and providing the public with information that is simply wrong. Let me prove this to you.
Let's start with the NOAA objective short-term and long-term drought indices: no drought in eastern Oregon, in fact it is wetter than normal in the short-term index.
The NWS Western Region Climate Center's graphic of % of normal precipitation shows that much of eastern Oregon and Washington had more than 150% of normal precipitation over the past 90 days. Only a few areas received less than 100%
The NOAA crop moisture index shows normal values east of the Cascade crest.
While the satellite-based GRACE soil moisture is ABOVE normal over most areas east of the Cascade crest
The Palmer Drought Severity Index suggests conditions much wetter than normal in eastern Oregon.
Snowpack? Above normal.
The bottom line of all this objective information is that there is absolutely no reason to suggest eastern Oregon is in severe or moderate drought. Or any kind of drought.
Why is the U.S. Drought Monitor different from the more rigorous objective measures described above? Because it is a SUBJECTIVE blend of many inputs, with a decided tendency to keep drought around even when reality says otherwise.
Why is the NOAA, USDA, and other Federal agencies supporting and distributing such inaccurate information? It is disturbing. Folks believe and are acting upon this incorrect information.
Weather Forecasting: Humanity's Greatest Achievement?
I will be giving a talk on March 16th at 7:30 PM in Kane Hall on the UW campus on the history, science, and technology of weather forecasting as a fundraiser for KPLU. General admission tickets will be $ 100 and VIP tickets that include dinner are $1000. If you are interested in purchasing tickets, you can sign up here.
Northwest Weather Workshop
The big local weather workshop is less than a month away (March 4-5, Seattle). If you are interested in attending, the agenda and registration information can be found here. This gathering is the place to be if you want to learn more about local weather research and operations.