Checking out Western Montana snowpack numbers

Posted at 10:36 AM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 12:36:37-05

BOZEMAN — Montana is bracing for a drastic pattern change with extreme arctic cold, gusty winds and snow expected to move in early next week.

October and early November were sensational months for mountain snowpack in western Montana with early season numbers taking first or second ranking at the time for mountain snow.

But late November and most of December were dismal for snow for nearly all of western Montana. Storms in late December and early January have helped boost our numbers.

Right now, the Lower Clark Fork and Madison Ranges are slightly below average. The Bitterroot, Jefferson, Gallatin, upper Yellowstone basins are near average, and the Missouri and Smith River basins -- as well as Marias and Milk drainages are 15% to 25% above average.

While these early season numbers are a good guide for us, most of Montana's significant and wettest snowpack is picked up in March, April and early May. Those storms will be a better indicator for potential drought conditions as well as summer fire danger.