Bitterroot Mountain Snowpack Returns to Normal Depths
A wild, snowy month of February helped the mountain snowpack throughout Montana, according to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
In their monthly report, the NRCS reported the Bitterroot River basin snow water equivalent was 99 percent of normal and 105 percent of last year. A month ago, the snow water was about 85 percent of normal. February precipitation for the Bitterroot was 166 percent of average.
The latest figures show the Upper Clark Fork was 95 percent of average and the Lower Clark Fork had snow water content at 98 percent of average. February precipitation was 209 percent of average for the Lower Clark Fork.
West of the Divide, the snow water levels were 96 percent of normal, but East of the Divide, the levels were 120 percent of normal (138 percent of last year).
Lucas Zukiewicz, NRCS water supply specialist, reported a new record for Glacier National Park for February snowfall with 12.5 inches of snow water, topping the 30-year average of 5.3 inches. He said 12 automated snow measurement sites set records last month across Montana.
Only the Smith-Judith-Musselshell river drainage was of concern with just 75 percent of normal levels.
Recreationists and irrigators are now looking at 2017's average streamflows, but Zukiewicz said, "The coming months and their weather patterns will play a critical role in the timing and magnitudes of water in the rivers this coming spring and summer."