Drought in the American West: "The Everything Disaster"

Event Date: 
August 5, 2021
Screenshot of recording home slide

Video recording.
Drought data sources.

Scarce water and unrelenting heat are rattling the states west of the Mississippi River. Wildfires this year have already charred more than 2.8 million acres and darkened the skies for thousands of miles. Household wells are going dry, large reservoirs on the Colorado River are dangerously low and farmers from California to Oregon and Idaho are being told no irrigation water is available. Salmon and marine life, meanwhile, are succumbing to record-breaking heat.
Is this an unusually severe drought — or something altogether different?
On August 5, join a roundtable of experienced journalists and subject-matter experts to discuss the drying of the American West, what it means and how to report it.
In this hour-long event hosted by SEJ and Circle of Blue, a lively discussion and Q&A, you will learn:

  • data sources and tools for finding current statistics on reservoir levels, fire movements, dry well reports, crop conditions and more
  • story ideas
  • scientific context for the region's drought crisis
  • how to spot the special interests and avoid the pitfalls and clichés


  • Trish Wilson, Climate & Environment Editor, The Washington Post, Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner


  • Heather Cooley, Pacific Institute
  • Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute
  • Cody Pope, Vector Center 
  • Johannes Cullmann, World Meteorological Organization


  • Brett Walton, Circle of Blue
  • Faith Kerns, California Institute for Water Resources
  • Laura Paskus, New Mexico PBS

When: August 5, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. ET

Event Details