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U.S. Drought MonitorMay 7, 2002 — Drought experts from the United States, Canada and Mexico are planning a new program of continental-scale drought monitoring for North America. The experts met at a drought workshop April 25-27, hosted by NOAA. (Click image to see latest U.S. Drought Monitor.)

The focus of the workshop, held in Asheville, N.C., was a discussion of techniques for improving drought monitoring in the United States and a new program of continental-scale drought monitoring for North America.

As a first step toward improved monitoring and assessment of climate extremes across the North American continent, the experts began technical planning for expanding the U.S. Drought Monitoring program to encompass all of North America. The current U.S. Drought Monitoring program, which began in 1999, provides continuing weekly updates of the status of drought throughout the 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.

This program is led by drought specialists from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, as well as drought specialists from the Joint Agricultural Weather Facility (U.S. Department of Agriculture and NOAA) and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Expanding the program to include all of North America will be a joint effort by the United States, Mexico and Canada. Workshop discussions included methods for ensuring data availability via near-real-time transmission to all participants, data quality, and coordination among the continent's drought experts. Teams were established to develop continent-scale databases, create product and data displays, and integrate the Drought Monitor authors into the monthly monitoring and assessment process.

The North American drought monitoring team will meet in the future with the goal of providing an annual assessment of drought conditions across the continent and the initiation of an operational monthly drought monitoring program in November 2002. Drought conditions on the North American continent will be assessed monthly and summaries provided to government and private sector decision-makers as well as the public via drought monitoring maps and textual reports as currently implemented in the U.S. weekly drought monitoring program. Subsequent efforts will focus on the implementation of weekly continent-scale drought assessments in future years.

Workshop participants included representatives from NOAA's Regional Climate Centers, the National Weather Service and National Climatic Data Center, also participating were several state climate offices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority, the National Drought Mitigation Center and several universities. International participants included representatives from Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, the Meteorological Service of Canada, and the National Meteorological Service of Mexico (SMN - Servicio Meteorologico Nacional).

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA's Drought Information Center

NOAA's USA Drought Assessment

Seasonal Outlooks from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center

Media Contact:
Patricia Viets, NOAA, (301) 713-0622