What a difference a month makes. The snowpack in Montana was below average at the beginning of February, according to the reports from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Then, along comes a change in the weather.

Water supply specialist Lucas Zukiewicz reported that 30 to 40 percent of the Bitterroot and Clark Fork snowpack came in the last three weeks. Even more impressive was snowpack along the Shields River basin in south-central Montana, where 70 percent of its snowpack for the season was deposited in February.

Zukiewicz said in a news release, "The Bitterroot, Upper Clark Fork, Lower Clark Fork, southern Flathead, Gallatin and Shields River basins had monthly snow totals which were record-setting, or near record-setting."

The first official steamflow forecasts for April 1 through July 31 show a near to slightly above average stream flow for many rivers. There are exceptions - the Beaverhead and Ruby Rivers have forecasts of well-below average in the spring runoff season. Zukiewicz said there still could be more storms to help out the snow levels there.

The March 1st levels showed the Bitterroot snow water level at 117 percent of normal, with a 34 percent increase in one month, while the upper Clark Fork was at 108 percent and the lower Clark fork at 98 percent. NRCS says two months remain for more snowfall before spring runoff of the rivers and streams in Montana. The streamflow forecasts will be more accurate next month. a full report of the conditions are at the Montana snow survey website and "real-time" snow survey data is available at the NRCS site.

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