The snowpack in the Bitterroot River drainage at the beginning of 2017 is below normal, though there's plenty of winter left.

The January Snow Survey report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bozeman reports the snow water level in the Bitterroot was 88 percent of average and only 84 percent of last year.

Lucas Zukiewicz, water supply specialist, said October precipitation set records throughout Montana, but the above average temperatures and drier conditions in November melted the low- and mid-level snow.

With snow in December, all river basins have recovered, but only the Upper Yellowstone River is above average. Elsewhere, the northern snow levels are slightly below normal, according the the NRCS report, and the levels are lower in the southern and eastern mountains in Montana.

However, Zukiewicz said, "We are really only one or two big storms away from normal, and the storm track only needs to shift a bit north for that to happen."

In the Bitterroot, only Nez Perce Camp and Twelvemile Creek snow levels were above average.