Southwest Montana snowpack starts to melt; drought status improved

Montana’s above-average snowpack this year has peaked and started to melt, but despite the swing to higher temperatures, water experts say irrigators are set up well for a good spring.

This winter, heavy precipitation and cooler temperatures helped water basins recover from drought conditions. As of May, the snowpack was above normal throughout southwest Montana, and none of Gallatin, Madison, or Park counties were in drought.

According to data from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, as of May 1, snowpack in the Gallatin basin was 118% of normal, the Madison basin snowpack was 135% of normal, and the Upper Yellowstone basin snowpack was 113% of normal. “Normal” is based on annual averages from 1991 to 2020.

Comparatively, last May those basins ranged between 80% and 95% of normal.

The area’s snowpack peaked in late April, which is similar to other years.

People are also reading…

But this year, the surplus snowpack creates a bit of a buffer, said Eric Larson, water supply specialist for the NRCS. Despite high temperatures prompting the melt out to start, there is still a lot of snow to melt.

How fast the snow melts in the spring and early summer is

View Source