Winter Snow Has Been ‘Hit or Miss’ in Montana
Snowfall has been "sporadic" across the state so far this winter, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Hydrologist Lucas Zukiewicz said that the highest snowfall so far has been in western and south-central Montana, from Missoula south into the Bitterroot Valley.
He said that in November and into December, there was "a kind of a split jetstream across the western U.S. that has just pushed moisture south of us or into the Pacific Northwest, which has just kind of petered out before it got to us." The pattern changed in December and the snow began to pile up in southwest Montana. However, northwest Montana, including the Flathead, is lagging behind. Snow water levels show the Bitterroot at 100 percent of average and the Clark Fork drainage at 95 percent. The Kootenai and Flathead drainages are at about 88 percent. East of the Divide in Montana, Zukiewicz said totals were 88 percent of average and 66 percent of last year.
After some cold snaps at the beginning of December, the temperatures have been warmer than average throughout Montana. He said, "We saw temperatures across the state that were 3 to 7 degrees above average. I don't know if it's an El Nino starting to play its way out. I sure hope not. That generally means we have below average precipitation and above average temperatures. But really, time will tell."
The Monthly reports can be found at the NRCS website and are updated monthly, after the fifth business day of the month.