Skip Navigation

News Release

April 1, 2012, Statewide Snowpack Rises above Average

Brian Domonkos

April 1, 2012, Statewide Snowpack Rises Above Average

Bozeman--March was a variable, yet snowy month around the state of Montana, increasing the statewide snowpack for the third month in a row, according to snow survey data from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“Storm patterns over the last month have favored the western and northern parts of the state with the Kootenai, Lower Clark Fork and Flathead River basins seeing substantial increases in snow water,” said , NRCS water supply specialist. Most of Montana saw slightly above average snowfall for the month, helping the basins around the state to stay at or slightly above average and allowed southwest Montana to continue recovering from the dry weather and below average snowfall experienced through Jan. 1.

However, some basins in Montana continue to be below average. The Milk River Basin continued to be considerably below average through the month of March, with little improvement from the storms that hit the rest of the state. The Wind, Big Horn, Powder, Tongue and Lower Yellowstone River basins in Wyoming have made the transition to a spring snowpack with the unseasonably warm temperatures, dropping significantly from the high percentages of average on March 1.

“The warm weather and sunny conditions in the last few weeks in southwest Montana have begun to turn low elevation snow cover into a spring snowpack, while mid to high elevations continue to increase during storms,” Domonkos said. Typically by April 1, Montana has accumulated around 95 percent of its seasonal snow cover, with most basins reaching average maximum snow water equivalent around mid-April.

“With the possibility of a wet April like we experienced last year, we will continue to monitor any accumulations or warm temperatures in the mountains, as the next month’s weather will help dictate timing and volumes of stream flows across the state,” Domonkos said.

Snow Water Content
River Basin Percent of Average Last Year percent of Average March percent Change
Columbia 110 122 +12
Kootenai, Montana 127 126 +24
Flathead, Montana 106 130 +12
Upper Clark Fork 102 115 +2
Bitterroot 106 107 +5
Lower Clark Fork 112 123 . +13
Missouri 93 117 +2
Missouri Headwaters 90 113 +5
 - Jefferson 89 110 +3
 - Madison 92 113 +11
 - Gallatin 87 116 +3
Missouri Mainstem 104 125 +1
 - Headwaters Mainstem 115 114 0
 - Smith-Judith-Musselshell 100 122 -5
 - Sun-Teton-Marias 109 118 +6
 - Milk (Bearpaw Mountains) 25 170 -26
St. Mary 112 111 +17
St. Mary and Milk 99 140 +15
Yellowstone 88 115 -18
 - Upper Yellowstone 90 122 -8
 - Lower Yellowstone 86 107 -26
Statewide 101 120 +5

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)

Streamflow prospects across the state have increased in all basins except the Yellowstone and Milk River basins since last month. Significant changes in the Yellowstone River basin snowpack decreased forecasts to below average levels. Above average precipitation during future months would likely increase runoff amounts.

Following are the averaged River Basin streamflow forecasts for the period April 1 through July 31. These forecasts assume near normal moisture and runoff conditions April through July.

Streamflow Forecasts
River Basin April to July this Year Percent of Average April to July Last Year Percent of Average
Columbia 109 124
-- Kootenai 114 115
-- Flathead 111 137
-- Upper Clark Fork 106 116
-- Bitterroot 104 109
-- Lower Clark Fork 109 126
Missouri 96 118
-- Jefferson 84 106
-- Madison 95 110
-- Gallatin 90 110
-- Missouri Mainstem 89 115
-- Smith-Judith-Musselshell 101 127
-- Sun-Teton-Marias 119 117
-- Milk 87 117
St. Mary 119 164
Yellowstone 91 112
-- Upper Yellowstone 93 117
-- Lower Yellowstone 89 107
Statewide 101 119

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 of 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, political beliefs, genetic information, reprisal, or because all or 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, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer."