MISSOULA - After a dry early December, true La Nina weather conditions have taken over.
Several moist weather systems have brought mountain and valley snow, along with periods of rain and freezing rain.
While valley roads are turning into a mess, National Weather Service Hydrologist Ray Nickless says this is exactly the weather pattern we want to see following a very dry summer.
“It’s good news," Nickless said. "I mean we’re adding moisture to the mountains for the snowpack because it’s going to mean good flows in the rivers. And right now we’re about normal, in some places a little above normal, with their flows.”
In addition to good river flows, the warmer temperatures in recent days have alleviated some of the concern of ice jams that were building during our recent stretch of cold days.
“We’ve had some ice in the rivers, but right now, we’re seeing with the little bit of warmth actually a lot of water cutting through the ice, and that’s a good situation, too,” Nickless said.
Nickless says if the temperatures took a big spike, flooding at lower levels would be more of a concern, but we haven’t seen the kind of jump that would warrant that concern.
“Having this little bit of warmth is nothing great. We’ll be in the 30s still, but it will cause a little bit of melting in the low elevations. This ponding of water, it will just make things sloppy.”
The long-range forecast heading into the next two weeks projects generally near-to-slightly-above-normal temperatures and at-to-above-normal precipitation. The longer conditions like this persist, the more likely we are to having ideal river flows and snow melt conditions during the spring months.