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News Release

March 1 Snowpack Nears Average Statewide

Brian Domonkos


Bozeman--The month of February dealt above average snow for the second consecutive month, while increasing snowpack in all major basins, according to snowpack data from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

February brought improvements to the snowpack in southwest Montana, which saw below average January snowfall. “Significant improvements were made, particularly in the Bridger Mountain Range, where snowpack nearly doubled over the course of the month affecting totals in the Gallatin and Shields River Basins” said , NRCS water supply specialist. The Lower Clark Fork River Basin was the only watershed to experience below average February snowfall.

Both the Missouri Headwaters and the Milk River Basins are considerably below average this year. The Lower Yellowstone is well above average and even above last year, by as much as 25 percent, in the Tongue River Basin. As was the case in 2011, March and April can present above average snowfall and could add to snowpack totals in below average areas, while increasing snowpack in the Lower Yellowstone as well. “Conditions are quite variable this year across our area, and still warrant a watchful eye over the coming months, whether above or below average,” Domonkos said.

Typically on March 1 nearly 80 percent of the average seasonal snowpack has accumulated, meaning one fifth of the snowfall season remains.

Snow Water Content
River Basin Percent of Average Last Year percent of Average February percent Change
Columbia 97 115 +4
Kootenai, Montana 103 117 +4
Flathead, Montana 93 124 +7
Upper Clark Fork 100 111 +2
Bitterroot 101 103 +2
Lower Clark Fork 99 117 -3
Missouri 90 111 +7
Missouri Headwaters 85 106 +5
 - Jefferson 85 104 +3
 - Madison 81 103 +3
 - Gallatin 84 112 +11
Missouri Mainstem 104 124 +6
 - Headwaters Mainstem 115 110 +4
 - Smith-Judith-Musselshell 104 126 +12
 - Sun-Teton-Marias 95 105 0
 - Milk (Bearpaw Mountains) 61 217 0
St. Mary 95 111 +2
St. Mary and Milk 84 144 +3
Yellowstone 106 108 +12
 - Upper Yellowstone 98 113 +8
 - Lower Yellowstone 111 103 +14
Statewide 95 113 +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 5 percent since last month, a direct reflection of the 5 percent increase in snowpack. Most streamflow forecasts improved slightly since last month, with the greatest gains being made in the Yellowstone River Basin. The Jefferson River Basin currently shows the lowest seasonal volume outlook below 80 percent.

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 March through July.

Streamflow Forecasts
River Basin April to July this Year Percent of Average April to July Last Year Percent of Average
Columbia 97 115
-- Kootenai 91 107
-- Flathead 99 125
-- Upper Clark Fork 99 110
-- Bitterroot 101 106
-- Lower Clark Fork 93 112
Missouri 88 110
-- Jefferson 76 96
-- Madison 86 96
-- Gallatin 89 105
-- Missouri Mainstem 84 102
-- Smith-Judith-Musselshell 99 121
-- Sun-Teton-Marias 99 111
-- Milk 88 164
St. Mary 99 112
Yellowstone 107 99
-- Upper Yellowstone 96 102
-- Lower Yellowstone 118 96
Statewide 96 110

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)


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