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Montana's Snowpack In Healthy Shape For Late May - KXLF.com | Continuous News | Butte, Montana

Montana's Snowpack In Healthy Shape For Late May

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The month of May has been interesting with regard to Montana's mountain snowpack. The first half of the month brought drier weather coming off an exceptionally wet April. Temperatures on several occasions shot up into the 70s and 80s in early May and that kicked off the runoff season. Area rivers and streams have been running just under flood stage with minor flooding in SW Montana.

Last weeks cool and wet weather put the breaks on the snow melt and in turn gave our mountain snowpack a shot in the arm with heavy wet snow and many basins picking up several inches of water content. Snow depth graphic shows how much of western and southern Montana is covered in a healthy blanket of snow. (see graphic above)

Now that the storm has left Montana and the data is pouring in on the added boost in snow water equivalent (SWE) percent of average values. (see graphic above) SW Montana is hovering between 106% to 126% percent of average. Anything over 100% is considered above normal. Good news for summer water needs. Far western Montana and Northern mountain ranges are looking very healthy with their SWE between 130% to 160% of average.

NRCS graphic above shows how the snow season progressed for 2016-2017. The dark black line in the middle of the graphic is the normal line, whereas, the red line shows how this past snow season actually developed. We started out below normal heading into November and December but by mid February snowpack conditions were climbing slightly above normal and by season end in early May we hit our seasonal peak near to above average statewide. Once the record heat kicked in early May the snowpack started come out in a hurry. But this past weeks storm added enough SWE that a second small peak hit again. What is interesting looking at the graphic above is the projected total snow melt. This graphic shows it could occur as early as late June or as late as mid July. Regardless, this summer's season water needs should be met filing reservoirs rivers and streams.

Seasonal outlook for June-July-August from the Climate Prediction Center is for near normal temperatures and near to slightly above normal precipitation. 

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