Snowpack Good in West, Very Low in North-Central Montana

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN (AP) – The state’s mountain snowpack is near average, and ahead of last year, with western Montana leading the way, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“The snow water content recorded on Jan. 1, 2008 represents about 40 to 45 percent of the seasonal snowfall,” said Roy Kaiser, water supply specialist with the NRCS. “With more than half the snowfall season remaining and slightly above average precipitation, Montana could see a positive snowpack for the season.”

Mountain precipitation in December was 123 percent west of the Continental Divide and 109 percent east of the Divide.

Kaiser said storm systems have been dumping most of their moisture west of the Divide.

“There hasn’t been a lot of energy in storms,” he said. “We still have half the winter snowfall remaining. A few good storms could bring this thing around.”

Snowpack in the Bitterroot drainage is 111 percent of average, followed by the Lower Clark Fork at 107 percent. Snowpack in the Yellowstone Basin is 94 percent of average and 124 percent of last year’s.

However, the Missouri mainstem was at 70 percent of average and the St. Mary and Milk River drainages are at 66 percent of average.

“The snowfall has been quite variable,” Kaiser said, noting the Bears Paw Mountains in the Milk River Basin are at just 18 percent of average and 19 percent of last year.