Bullock: Drought Preparations Continue for Montana

The month of May was the driest on record for Kalispell with only 0.22 inches of precipitation

By Beacon Staff

While recent spring rains have lifted stream flows and improved soil moisture in many areas of the state, Gov. Steve Bullock says the potential for drought conditions remains moderate to high on both the east and west sides of the Continental Divide.

Bullock said Montanans should prepare accordingly for the potential impacts of drought.

“Current forecasts are predicting normal temperatures and normal to above-normal precipitation through June and July,” Bullock said. “Stream flows in most areas of Montana are improving. But many areas remain in a moisture deficit.”

The month of May was the driest on record for Kalispell with only 0.22 inches of precipitation. The two-month stretch of April and May was the second driest on record and was 1.61 inches below normal.

Kalispell did benefit from 0.59 inches of rain June 1-2, according to the National Weather Service. But mountain snowpack levels remain significantly low and 47 measurement sites across the state set new record low snow water equivalent levels for April 1.

“The coming months will be critical for the west-side basins as snowpack is extremely below average in some locations,” the NRCS stated in its May 1 water supply report.

Bullock noted the city of Bozeman has implemented a program to reduce outdoor water use during the summer months by offering rebates on products that improve irrigation system efficiency by at least thirty percent.

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) Director John Tubbs said local, state and federal water-management agencies and groups are actively engaged in drought-mitigation efforts.

“The work under way includes investments in new water gauges and other water-measurement infrastructure, identifying new locations for water storage and identifying strategies for farmers and communities to reduce water consumption,” Tubbs said.

For more information on water management, drought preparedness and water use in Montana, see the 2015 Montana State Water Plan.