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Montana snowpack looking up after record-breaking February

Posted at 11:14 AM, Mar 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-07 13:14:38-05

BOZEMAN – Record breaking snowfall for the month of February in southwest Montana means really good news for our snowpack.

We’ve done a complete 180 from where were about 45 days ago.

While basins along the Hi-Line are still below normal, the snow water equivalent for the Jefferson, Madison, Gallatin, and Upper Yellowstone river basins have trended up to 25% above normal.

“It was a huge month in those basins, so we went from conditions where we could have below-normal water supply, potentially in the spring if those conditions had persisted, to being in great shape and having some of the best snowpack totals in the state,” NRCS Water Specialist Lucas Zukiewicz said.

This is positive news for spring runoff users.

“When we think about the main water users of the Gallatin, that’s our ag community to the north and west of Bozeman. We have heavy agricultural use of our rivers; that increase for them is great.” Zukiewicz said.

There’s definitely a tradeoff for the ag community, though. The harsh winter weather and brutally cold temperatures have caused issues for calving season.

“I know it’s been really tough for a lot of folks down here in the valleys and also the cold temperatures, especially those raising livestock, but water supply has improved, or at least the prospects of water supply, because we’ve seen the snowpack grow so much in the upper parts of our river basins,” Zukiewicz said.

What makes weather so interesting here in southwest Montana is the snowpack you see today could be looking a lot different 30 days from now. Only time will tell.

-Carson Vickroy reporting for MTN News