Missoula, Ravalli County and seven other counties went into Severe Drought yesterday according to the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. National Weather Service hydrologist Ray Nickless explains:

"Most of our drought situation is really based on our water supply this year," said Nickless. "The snow pack melted so early this year with our record warm temperatures in April that our stream flows are now in that 62 to 65 percent of average range for both the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers. When you look at the North Fork of the Blackfoot River, it is at the lowest level it has been in probably 20 years."

Missoula hit severe drought much later in the year than expected because of summer rains. Nickless says the drought this year is not as bad as last year's.

"We are not quite as bad as we were last year," Nickless said. "We have a lot of Western Montana actually above the severe situation into extreme drought. Most of Western Montana was in extreme drought last year. We are a notch below that. We had an even bigger fire situation and lower stream flow."

The other counties to reach severe drought yesterday are: Teton, Lewis and Clark, Powell, Sweet Grass, Still Water, Carbon and Yellowstone Counties.