Cool Weather Preserves Western Montana’s Mountain Snow Pack
The cool weather in April and May have helped to preserve western Montana’s mountain snow pack, according to Montana’s chief hydrologist.
Water Supply Specialist for the State of Montana Lucas Zukiewicz said on Friday that our part of the state’s mountain snow pack should be just fine with summer ahead.
“The good news is that we had a pretty close to record setting January and February which brought us back from our early season deficits in snowfall in the mountains,” said Zukiewicz. “Since then, we were able to recover to near or above normal snow pack across a lot of western Montana on April 1st.”
Zukiewicz pointed out the conditions nearest Missoula.
“We have snow pack in the upper Clark Fork and particularly in the Blackfoot which is near to above normal,” he said. “That is starting to melt at the low elevations, it really started in the last week of April and has continued now through the first week in May. However, we’re starting to see our seasonal increases. Our forecasts for this year indicate near to slightly above average volumes for the Upper Clark Fork and the Blackfoot, so that’s great news for water users there in the Missoula valley.”
Zukiewicz said the Bitterroot drainages were also in good shape.
“There are pretty similar conditions there, maybe near to slightly above average snow pack for the state, and stream flow forecasts are near to slightly below average, and that’s really just a function of April precipitation being low and that’s kind of pulled down our forecast there,” he said. “There’s still 95 to 98 percent of average for the summer, so we’re anticipating average water supplies.”
How fast the remaining snowpack melts and what occurs during May will be covered in next month’s Water Supply Outlook Report, which will be released during the first week of June.