Saturday, December 12, 2015

California Drought Dashboard

The drought in California has been going on for a few years now, and the talk of an El NiƱo winter bringing much needed relief makes me wonder about the latest state of the drought situation as we move through a hopefully wet winter. Surprisingly, I was hard-pressed to find good, up-to-date sources of California drought conditions data that show changes over time.

For starters, the United States Drought Monitor provides great percentile data for different drought level intensities, updated on a weekly basis. However, the tables do a poor job of depicting the progression of the drought conditions on a weekly basis, even though that data is readily available and dates all the way back to 2000. The best visualization of this data that I've found, in time-series form, is the graph from the US Drought Monitor that almost gets the job done but lacks some fine grained control. So, I made a slightly tweaked version of this graph that is hopefully a solid dashboard that can serve as an up-to-date summary of drought conditions. The graph can be easily manipulated for comparisons over different time periods, and always loads the latest data from the aforementioned sources.