Jefferson River Basin drought concerns for possible low flows this summer

Posted at 8:28 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 22:28:22-04

BOZEMAN - The NRCS monthly update on snowpack and streamflows for this summer highlighted one area of concern in SW Montana and that is the Jefferson River Basin. This basin is made up of numerous small and large tributaries and rivers like the Ruby, Beaverhead, Big Hole rivers.

The lack of precipitation has been an ongoing concern especially in Beaverhead county for over a year. The past winter did not produce adequate mountain snowpack and combined with warmer than temperatures an early snowmelt hit this region over the last couple of months. On the water year Dillon is below normal by over 3 inches.

We are trying to get the word out to folks to start planning for a worsening drought this summer and possible water shortages was a comment from both the Big Hole Water Shed Committee and the Jefferson Watershed Committee this week.

Most of SW Montana is now under "moderate" drought conditions but the Dillon area southward to the Idaho stateline is in "Severe" drought. Long range forecast from the Climate Prediction Center 90 day outlook shows a drier than normal pattern is likely to continue and a warmer than normal pattern as well across most of the western U.S. and this will make it extremely difficult to make up the large deficit on water year precipitation trends.

You can watch the full story above.