Bitterroot Mountains Need More Snow in Unusual Winter
Only two major snowstorms tracked across most of Montana in January. And then there were the cold temperatures that have stayed below average. The result, snowpack totals dropped during January, which is unusual.
Some river basins on the southern Montana border saw increases, but it was small, according to snow surveyor Lucas Zukiewicz of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Bitterroot area had only 49 percent of normal precipitation as of February lst, with the snowpack at 78 percent of normal, 85 percent of last year.
Recent snow is helping, but the snow water level around the state before this past weekend ranged from lows of 62 percent at the Smith-Judith-Musselshell River Basin to a high of 115 percent in the Yellowstone River Basin.
The Upper Clark Fork Basin was at 77 percent of normal and the Lower Clark Fork only 64 percent of normal.
Zukiewics said that a favorable storm pattern has returned, but February is usually one of the drier months. Of course, that may be different this year.
"This has been anything but a typical La Nina winter so far," he wrote in a news release. "Anything can happen in the coming months."
He added a cautionary note that by February almost 65 percent of Montana's annual peak snowpack has accumulated. He said it would take above average snowfall during the rest of the winter and through the spring to get average water supply this summer.