While the drought conditions have improved in Indiana, there is still a large area of the central US still dealing with extreme drought. Better communication through the various levels of government and better preparation could lessen the effects of droughts. So, NOAA organized a multi-institution meeting to help better prepare the nation in the future.
Droughts are very different from other types of natural disasters. Snow storms or tornadoes move very quickly, in some cases the devastation can be caused in just minutes. A drought takes months, even years to develop. But, collaboration and compromise is still needed.
The Drought Forum was held in December of 2012 and already some good is coming from it. The acting Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Agriculture have signed an agreement that will improve the sharing of data and expertise on drought. This includes drought forecasts and early warnings of future droughts.
Here are some of the key agreements and points made at the meeting:
- An agreement for increased collaboration
- This includes data and forecast sharing, and improved data collection.
- Regional coordination calls
- Special webinars in regions that will be or are affected by drought
- Improved social media use
- New and inventive planning strategies
- Increased awareness of public health issues
- Droughts can cause an increased risk of West Nile Virus.
NOAA Earth Systems Research Laboratory