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Northwest Forestry, Weather and Climate

Local weather and climate affect Northwest working landscapes by determining forests composition and affecting forest growth, disease, and soil health. Understanding current weather and climate is important for supporting sustainable timber production in the Northwest. The Northwest Climate Hub helps to provide current and projected information for foresters, advisers and industry.

Changing climate conditions have a wide range of effects on forestry. The most visible of these is the increase in size and intensity of wildfires. Warmer temperatures are increasing the growing season length, but also are increasing stress on trees, and leading to seedling and tree mortality. Changing precipitation rates and timing are increasing nutrient soil loss and erosion. Warmer winters are affecting the timing of bud burst and changing ranges and densities of insects such as bark beetles. 

Current conditions and outlooks

Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Drought Monitor summary map identifies general drought areas, labeling droughts by intensity, with D1 being the least intense and D4 being the most intense. D0 drought watch areas that are either drying-out and possibly heading for drought, or are recovering from drought but not yet back to normal. They may suffer long-term impacts from strsses such as low streamflow or reservoir levels.

Northwest Climate Toolbox

The Northwest Climate Toolbox has a collection of data visualization tools for looking at recent, observed conditions, season forecasts as well a long-term climate predictions in the Northwest and continental US. One suite of tools within the Northwest Climate Toolbox focuses on climate tools relevant to wildfire applications.

Western Regional Climate Center

The Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC) is a cooperative program between NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and the Desert Research Institute (DRI). WRCC helps to better explain climate and its impacts in the Western US and provide practical solutions to specific climate problems.