UW Drought Monitoring System

for Washington State

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UW Surface Water Monitor

Research Description


This website presents a near real-time (daily-updating) analysis of hydrologic conditions throughout Washington State, and a prediction aspect will soon be added. The objective of the site is to monitor departures from normal conditions (anomalies) that may help characterize evolving drought and/or flood risks. The effort is supported by a 2-year grant from the NOAA Sector Applications Research Program (SARP). In addition to the hydrologic monitoring and prediction work (much of which is still in development) represented on this website, the grant also supports a research effort exploring the communication of forecast information based on NOAA information products, such as climate forecasts and land surface models. The communication-related component is being directed by Dr. Anne Steinemann.

The hydrologic analysis has initially been implemented at a 1/8 degree (latitude/longitude) resolution, and only a limited number of products are shown. We anticipate that a greater number of derived analyses (tailored toward particular applications), as well as hydrologic forecasts, will be added within the next 6 months.

The daily updates of soil moisture, runoff (to be added) and snow water equivalent (SWE) are simulated by the VIC macroscale hydrologic model. The detailed, physically-based VIC model is driven by observed daily precipitation and temperature maxima and minima from NWS COOP stations, selected for reporting reliably in real-time and for having records of longer than 45 years (and various other criteria). These are obtained from the NOAA Applied Climate Information System (ACIS). Currently, the data for the previous day are downloaded by 10 am PST, but the simulation and website update are showing a lag about 2 days. The lag should decrease as the 1/16 degree system is implemented.

This site was launched in November 2006, and most aspects of the effort are completely automated.


Questions? Comments? Please email shrad@hydro.washington.edu.
Last modified: Thu May 19 10:38:11 PDT 2011