As drought continues to have a substantial impact on Kansas this summer, many people are questioning their location’s drought status. We will briefly discuss how those drought monitor decisions are made and how you can provide additional feedback/input that help the weekly decisions better reflect on the ground decisions.
Drought Monitor Decisions
Each week, scientists across the nation gather input on drought conditions across their respective regions. Typically, each state has a representation who collects his/her state’s information and passes it up the chain to the National Drought Monitor author each week. Information comes from numerous sources that all reflect current and recent historical data. No information on the upcoming forecast is considered. The Drought Monitor is meant to reflect current conditions and how they have changed over the previous week.
Some of the weekly input data sources include:
Figure 1. Standard Precipitation Index as viewed by individual climate stations from the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
Making an Impact on Drought Monitor Decisions
In addition to the previously mentioned data tools, there is an additional avenue for YOU to report drought impacts for your particular region. Anyone (public, producer, researcher or agency) can also submit Condition Monitoring Observer Reports (CMOR). These reports are easy to make and can reflect the current ‘on-the-ground’ results of the conditions. Even in times of increased moisture, reports help justify conditions in the locale that meteorological data may not reflect. These allow you to report crop stress, livestock impacts, household concerns, surface water conditions and even municipality water supply concerns. It is available in a free, easy to use interface. You can submit reports here: http://go.unl.edu/CMOR and view other’s reports here: http://go.unl.edu/CMORMAP (Figure 2).
Figure 2. The last 30 days of CMOR reports in Kansas (Source: http://go.unl.edu/CMORMAP).
The resulting data are available to the general public and more importantly, all drought decision makers in the nation. This is the quickest, easiest, and most convenient way to relay how the current drought (or rainfall) has impacted you. These can have substantial impacts on the drought monitor assessment for your locale and provide invaluable data for future research/analysis of water and/or climate status.
The next time you are concerned about your current drought (or wet) conditions, please make a drought report using the CMOR application and provide us your input!
Christopher “Chip” Redmond - Kansas Mesonet Manager
Matthew Sittel - Kansas Assistant State Climatologist