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Entries in Montana water supply (4)


Warmer weather starting to reduce Montana snowpack

(MISSOULA)- While there's still a lot of snow in some parts of Western Montana, warmer temperatures and last week's heavy rains are finally starting to trim back the snow reserves in some basins. 

The region has had a greater than normal snowpack for much of the year, following a long, wet winter. 

Snowpack remains strong in several basins, including the Lower Clark Fork, the Flathead and the Kootenai-Cabinet region, where the amount of snow is still as much as 188% of normal for this time of the year. 

However, last week's heavy rains had a big impacts on the Upper Clark Fork and Bitterroot basins, which have dropped back to less than 25% of normal. 

Other locations, such as the Jefferson and the Upper Rocky Mountain Front are just above 100% of normal for the this point in June. Snowpack also remains well above average in the Upper Yellowstone, although the Gallatin Basin is about half of what would be normal at this point in the season.


Latest forecasts show snowpack building for "near normal" year 

(BOZEMAN)- Heavy snow in December is helping push the snowpack in the Northern Rockies to just a little below average, with forecasters now predicting a "near normal" water supply for this coming summer. 

That's the assessment of the latest figures released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

Although the first snow hit in October, NRCS says readings taken on December 1st showed the average snowpack was only running at 80% of average. However, storms in the first part of December helped to push that total to "just below average", despite a dry spell the second half of the month. 

“This is typically the turning point in the snow accumulation season with nearly half of a normal year’s accumulation behind us,” said Brian Domonkos, NRCS water supply specialist.  “Snowpack is currently positioned well for the remainder of the year provided near normal snowfall for the remaining season.”

And the precipitation totals between those dry stretches so far this winter have been impressive. Since October 1st, the Flathead Basin has seen precipitation hit 120% of average. The mountains of Montana overall have seen rain and snow totals at 110% of average. 

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above average precipitation for Western and Central Montana through March. Of the rivers in Western Montana that feed the Columbia system, the Kootenai, Flathead and Upper Clark Fork are all running ahead of last year's snowpack. The Bitterroot and Lower Clark Fork are slightly behind last year. 


Water supply lagging as summer approaches

(BOZEMAN)- Northwest Montana's snowpack continues to be slightly above average as we enter the home stretch of spring. But other basins around the state continue to run below average according to the latest numbers from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

The survey of SNOTEL sites on May 1st shows that April's flucuating temperatures impacted the water supply in most areas of the state. While cooler temperatures and more snow fell in early April, NRCS says the second half of the month saw rising temperatures and melting snow in many mountain areas of the state. 

"The majority of our SNOTEL sites reached their maximum snow water equivalent during the first two weeks of April," Brian Domonkos, NRCS water supply specialist for Montana told KBZK TV this week. 

Basins like the Madison, Gallatin and Upper Yellowstone are showing around 90% of average runoff for the summer, but the Jefferson is very dry at just 55%. The Missouri mainstem is at 79%. 

Domonkos says the exception are the basins in Northwest Montana. While the Upper Clark Fork is at 87% of average runoff, the Lower Clark Fork, as well as the Kootenai, and Flathead systems are at average, or even slightly above average. 


Late season snow pushes snowpack to above normal levels 

NRCS map(MISSOULA) -This persistent winter weather crowding another season might not be doing much for your spring fever and flowers. But it’s helping to “top off” the Western Montana snowpack to get us through the summer.

The National Weather Service office in Missoula says the latest readings from the region’s high altitude SNOTEL sites shows the amount of snow, and water in the snow, is running at normal, or even above normal levels in all of the mountain ranges in the west half of the state.

That’s a big turnaround from the very dry start to the winter which saw little snow fall in the mountains after an initial series of storms in the fall.

The National Resource Conservation Service says the Flathead Basin, the Upper Clark Fork, Bitterroot, Jefferson, Madison, Gallatin and the Upper Yellowstone are all showing “snow water equivalent” levels between 90% and 109% of normal. That’s based on records taken between 1971 and 2000.

And the picture is even better in some areas.

Forecasters say the Kootenai, Lower Clark Fork, Sun-Teton-Marias Basin, the St Mary-Mile Basin, the Missouri Mainstream and Smith-Judith-Musselshell are showing snowpack ranging from 110% to as high as 129% of normal.

And those are good numbers to have starting spring. Contrary to popular belief, the Northwest’s snowpack really depends on the snow that falls in late winter and early spring to build the summer water supply, as opposed to storms earlier in the winter.