Drought Information Sources
Montana Governor’s Drought Advisory Committee
Lucas, Zukiewicz, Water Supply Specialist with NRCS in Montana, represents NRCS on a monthly basis to present snowpack, precipitation and water supply information to collaborating agencies in the state and federal governments. These meetings, held at the Capitol building in Helena, provide information for water managers and the public to assess current conditions across the state and includes presentations from; the National Weather Service, USDA-NRCS, United States Geological Survey, Bureau of Reclamation, Montana DNRC State Reservoir Projects, Montana DNRC Northern Rockies Fire Coordination Center, and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.
It’s no news that snowpack across the state was less than desirable this past season, and west of the Continental Divide snowpack conditions were near or at record low at our monitoring sites. Since the snowpack in our state is effectively the largest reservoir we have, we were primed for low streamflow runoff before the spring and summer began. As summer progressed we received below average precipitation in most basins and saw drought conditions persist in some areas and worsen in others. Stream flows have been very low this summer and were near to record low in streams that are not fed by reservoir storage.
So what does this all add up to? Currently, Montana has 13 counties in the D3 (Extremely Dry) category of drought and 11 counties in the state are in D2 (Moderately Dry) at this time. The driest conditions are west of the Divide and along the Rocky Mountain Front east of the Divide, but southwest and central basins are also feeling the pressure due to the lack of precipitation this water year.
What does this mean for agricultural producers around the state? The drought committee makes these drought determinations on a monthly basis for each county in the state and the drought category triggers assistance programs through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). On September 17, 2015, Montana FSA triggered an additional 4 counties, totaling 19 total across the state, to be eligible for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) which provides financial assistance to livestock producers affected by the drought. NRCS serves on the front line in monitoring mountain conditions across the state with the SNOTEL and SCAN networks, and works with state and federal agencies to make sure that when Montanans are experiencing difficulty they get the assistance they need.
To get more information on current drought conditions, view presentations from agencies at the monthly meetings, and check programs available to producers at this time please use the following links:
Additional drought-related web pages maintained by other agencies and organizations: