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Mountain snowpack levels vary across Montana

Mountain Range
Posted at 10:44 AM, Mar 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-21 12:44:59-04

KALISPELL - It may officially be spring, but it still feels like winter in our Montana mountain ranges.

USDA Water Supply Specialist Eric Larson says snowpack levels in central and south-central Montana are sitting well above average for this time of year.

Larson says snowpack in mountain ranges in the Missoula-area are sitting right around average, including in the Swan Mountain Range and the southern Flathead Mountain Range.

Larson says we start to see a slightly lower than normal snowpack in mountain ranges along the Idaho border moving north toward Canada, including parts of the Whitefish Mountain Range and Glacier National Park.

He said roughly 80% of Montana’s water supply comes from our mountain snowpack that accumulates over the winter season.

Larson said there’s still time in April for mountain ranges to make up for any snowpack deficits before warmer weather hits.

“Ideally our snowpack doesn’t peak too late in the season, we don’t want to make up for all those deficits in May and June in terms of snowfall because the later the snow sticks around, the more of the concern there is for warm temperatures, rain which could cause that snow to flush through the system pretty quickly.”

Larson said it’s too early to tell how the snowpack will impact summer drought and fire season as that depends on a multitude of factors including available fuels and summer precipitation.