Skip Navigation

News Release

February Snowpack Improves Across Northern Half of Montana

Brian Domonkos

February 1 Snowpack Improves Across Northern Half of Montana, Southern Half Sees Little Change

Bozeman--Statewide mountain snowpack made gains during January but remains below average and below last year, according to data from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“The beginning of January saw little snowfall across the state until the second half of the month brought significant accumulations increasing snowpack 15 percent in most basins statewide,” said , NRCS water supply specialist. He said near normal weather patterns brought seasonal precipitation for the remainder of the month, ending January with slightly above average monthly snowfall totals.

Northern Montana received the greatest snowpack increases from the late January storms while southern Montana received less snow. “The Yellowstone and Gallatin River basins were the only basins to post below average January snowfall totals,” Domonkos said. “Regardless, the Yellowstone basin remains as one of the major basins with the strongest snowpack at 94 percent of average. With nearly two thirds of the snow accumulation season behind us, there is still some time to make up for lost ground, but the window of opportunity is closing.”

Data shows that the Headwaters Mainstem basin, consisting of the Missouri River from near Three Forks to Cascade, Mont., currently has the best snowpack at 111 percent of average, which is higher than the snowpack at this time last year.

Snow Water Content
River Basin Percent of Average Last Year percent of Average January percent Change
Columbia 93 113 +13
Kootenai, Montana 99 107 +11
Flathead, Montana 86 120 +17
Upper Clark Fork 98 112 +16
Bitterroot 99 103 +9
Lower Clark Fork 102 116 +12
Missouri 84 113 +4
Missouri Headwaters 80 109 +3
 - Jefferson 82 107 +4
 - Madison 78 109 +5
 - Gallatin 73 113 -4
Missouri Mainstem 98 122 +5
 - Headwaters Mainstem 111 104 +6
 - Smith-Judith-Musselshell 92 119 +3
 - Sun-Teton-Marias 95 93 +14
 - Milk (Bearpaw Mountains) 61 203 +11
St. Mary 93 108 +15
St. Mary and Milk 81 155 +5
Yellowstone 94 110 -3
 - Upper Yellowstone 89 115 -1
 - Lower Yellowstone 97 106 -6
Statewide 90 113 +8

If you encounter any problems with the files provided on this page, please contact Brian Domonkos at .

See the following text document for detailed basin snowpack information:

Basin-Wide Snowpack Summary (TXT; 64 KB)

With below average snowpack conditions and near average January snowfall in southern Montana, streamflow prospects have changed little since Jan. 1 and remain below average, according to Domonkos. “Streamflow forecasts in the northern half of the state, on the other hand, have increased 8 percent on average since last month bringing the statewide streamflow forecast average up 5 percent since last month,” he said.

Below are the averaged river basin streamflow forecasts for the period April 1 through July 31. These forecasts assume near normal moisture and runoff conditions February through July.

Streamflow Forecasts
River Basin April to July this Year Percent of Average April to July Last Year Percent of Average
Columbia 92 112
-- Kootenai 86 101
-- Flathead 89 123
-- Upper Clark Fork 98 107
-- Bitterroot 99 105
-- Lower Clark Fork 87 110
Missouri 84 106
-- Jefferson 72 102
-- Madison 83 99
-- Gallatin 85 103
-- Missouri Mainstem 82 102
-- Smith-Judith-Musselshell 83 115
-- Sun-Teton-Marias 101 97
-- Milk 90 148
St. Mary 106 107
Yellowstone 98 101
-- Upper Yellowstone 91 105
-- Lower Yellowstone 105 97
Statewide 91 107

NOTE: The "April to July Last Year Percent of Average" column above is what was forecast last year, NOT what actually occurred.

See the following text document for detailed basin streamflow forecast information:

Provisional Water Supply Forecasts (TXT; 24 KB)


"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or a part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer."