08 Jul 2021

08 Jul 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Monitoring the Daily Evolution and Extent of Snow Drought

Benjamin James Hatchett1, Alan Michael Rhoades2, and Daniel J. McEvoy1 Benjamin James Hatchett et al.
  • 1Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada, USA, 89512
  • 2Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, USA, 94720

Abstract. Snow droughts are commonly defined as below average snowpack at a point in time, typically 1 April in the western United States (wUS). This definition is valuable for interpreting the state of the snowpack but obscures the temporal evolution of snow drought. Borrowing from dynamical systems theory, we applied phase diagrams to visually examine the evolution of snow water equivalent (SWE) and accumulated precipitation conditions in maritime, intermountain, and continental snow climates in the wUS using station observations as well as spatially distributed estimates of SWE and precipitation. Using a percentile-based drought definition phase diagrams of daily observed SWE and precipitation highlighted decision-relevant aspects of snow drought such as onset, evolution, and termination. The phase diagram approach can be used in tandem with spatially distributed estimates of daily SWE and precipitation to reveal variability in snow drought type and extent. When combined streamflow or other data, phase diagrams and spatial estimates of snow drought conditions can help inform drought monitoring and early warning and help link snow drought type and evolution impacts on ecosystems, water resources, and recreation. A web tool is introduced allowing users to create real-time or historic snow drought phase diagrams.

Benjamin James Hatchett et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-193', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Aug 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Benjamin Hatchett, 12 Nov 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2021-193', Adrienne Marshall, 06 Sep 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Benjamin Hatchett, 12 Nov 2021

Benjamin James Hatchett et al.

Benjamin James Hatchett et al.


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Latest update: 04 Dec 2021
Short summary
Snow droughts, or below-average snowpack, can result from either dry conditions and/or rain falling instead of snow. Monitoring snow drought through time and across space is important to evaluate when snow drought onset occurred, its duration, spatial extent, and severity, as well as what conditions created it or led to its termination. We present visualization techniques, including a Web-based snow drought tracking tool, to evaluate snow droughts and assess their impacts in the western U.S.