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News Release

March 1 Montana Snowpack Levels Down Slightly

Contact:
Brian Domonkos
406-587-6991


 

 

 


Bozeman--Snowpack readings at the end of February declined again slightly for the second month in a row across Montana, bringing snowpack levels to 93 percent of normal statewide and 85 percent of last year, according to snow survey data from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The dip in February was three percentage points, while January dropped seven percent. According to NRCS, snowfall was consistent during February, tracking close to normal. Some areas received a modest increase in snow water equivalent, but most saw a slight decrease. “Near normal snowpack is a good sign this time of year because at this point we are typically 80 percent complete with the normal snow accumulation season,” said , NRCS water supply specialist.

The Milk River Basin had the highest snowpack levels in the state on March 1 at 119 percent of median, while the Bitterroot is the lowest in the state at 85 percent of median.

According to Domonkos, it was this point last year when the Lower Yellowstone River basins experienced an abrupt change in weather patterns, going from well above average snowpack in late February to melting in mid-March, which is as much as a month and a half early. “Two main factors contributed to the early deficient runoff—record high temperatures and the strong warm winds that descended over the Big Horn Mountains” said Domonkos. “Thankfully, this same weather pattern does not seem to be setting up this year.”

Snow Water Content
River Basin Percent of Median Percent Last year February Percent Change
Columbia 92 82 -1
Kootenai, Montana 93 84 -3
Flathead, Montana 94 87 0
Upper Clark Fork 90 77 -3
Bitterroot 85 73 -1
Lower Clark Fork 89 82 -1
Missouri 96 94 -3
Missouri Headwaters 96 100 -7
 -- Jefferson 98 101 -4
 -- Madison 92 100 -10
 -- Gallatin 100 107 -5
Missouri Mainstem 95 83 +5
 -- Headwaters Mainstem 100 77 +4
 -- Smith-Judith-Musselshell 101 99 +2
 -- Sun-Teton-Marias 91 72 +2
 -- Milk (Bearpaw Mountains) 119 184 +13
St. Mary 107 94 +5
St. Mary and Milk 109 114 +6
Yellowstone 90 73 -1
Upper Yellowstone 92 80 -6
Lower Yellowstone 89 68 +3
Statewide 93 85 -3

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

For detailed snowpack information go to:
Basin-Wide Snowpack Summary (TXT; 64 KB)

Given the current snowpack in place and near normal forecasted future precipitation and temperatures, streamflows are predicted to be near to slightly below average this runoff season. The table below provides normalized streamflow forecasts for each river basin in Montana.

Following are the averaged river basin streamflow forecasts for 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 92 97
Kootenai 95 91
Flathead 99 99
Upper Clark Fork 87 99
Bitterroot 83 101
Lower Clark Fork 87 93
Missouri 91 88
Jefferson 87 76
Madison 89 86
Gallatin 97 89
Missouri Mainstem 90 84
Smith-Judith-Musselshell 91 99
Sun-Teton-Marias 94 99
Milk 99 88
St. Mary 101 99
Yellowstone 84 107
Upper Yellowstone 86 96
Lower Yellowstone 82 118
Statewide 90 96

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

For detailed basin streamflow forecast information go to:
Provisional Water Supply Forecasts (TXT; 24 KB)

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