Montana’s Amazing January Snowpack Numbers Signal Much Optimism
When 100% of normal is on the lower side of statewide conditions, you're talking about what has been a prime time snow show so far this year.
But that is one of the highlights of the most recent State of the State Snowpack address in Montana. And while things can always change, it was very beneficial to receive that early- season deposit in October, that ended up being a harbinger of things to come in November and December.
That is the gist of the new report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), who says that all the late fall and early winter cool and wet weather brought above normal precipitation and snowfall across most of Montana. In addition to the higher snowpack accumulations, all major rivers basins have an above normal snowpack as well.
While western Montana may be bringing up the rear right now, but hardly cause for any alarm. The NRCS says that the Upper Clark Fork and Bitterroot River basins have the lowest snowpack percentage at about 100% of normal. The Milk River basin is the highest at 159% of normal.
For those of you who feel like it's already been a long-enough winter, would you believe that on January 1, Montana's snowpack is typically only about 35% to 40% accumulated for the season? An ideal scenario is snowpack reaching normal peak levels in April or early May. If level peak too early, that generally results in lower water supplies in late-summer. Peak too late? Here come the flood warnings.
Pretty hard to have the perfect season, but for now, barring several weeks without snow in the next month or two, Montana should be in pretty great shape heading into the spring and summer outdoor recreational months!
Snow nerds like me can get the latest snowpack numbers on the NRCS Snow Survery webpage here.
Here's to low fire danger and plenty of water for our crops, lakes and rivers in 2023!
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