Mountain Snowpack Still in Pretty Good Shape
The snow is still hanging around in the upper parts of Montana's mountains, while the snowmelt is underway at the lower elevations, according to the May 8th report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bozeman. Lucas Zukiewicz, Water Supply Specialist, reported cooler than average April temperatures contrasted with lower precipitation amounts to maintain the upper level snow, but kick off the high water levels we are currently seeing in rivers and streams. West of the Divide is in pretty good shape, he said, but there are some areas of concern in the eastern drainages, including the Jefferson and Madison River basins. Water stored in reservoirs may help those rivers. Statewide, the snow-water equivalent is 109 percent of normal with an April precipitation total of only 77 percent of normal.
The Columbia River Basin of Western Montana has 113 percent of normal snow water equivalent, with the individual rivers - Bitterroot at 108 of average, Lower Clark Fork at 114 percent, Upper Clark Fork at 108 percent, Flathead at 117, and Kootenai at 112 percent of normal. April precipitation was only 86 percent of normal in the Bitterroot, but 104 percent of normal in the Lower Clark Fork. Lowest was Kootenai basin at 74 percent of normal. Streamflow forecasts for most of Western Montana are slightly above average, Zukiewicz reported.