Posted: Jan 8, 2013 3:34 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
BOZEMAN - Heavy snow in December is helping push the snowpack in the Northern Rockies to just a little below average, with forecasters now predicting a "near normal" water supply for this coming summer.
That's the assessment of the latest figures released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Although the first snow hit in October, NRCS says readings taken on Dec. 1 showed the average snowpack was only running at 80% of average. However, storms in the first part of December helped to push that total to "just below average," despite a dry spell the second half of the month.
"This is typically the turning point in the snow accumulation season with nearly half of a normal year's accumulation behind us," said Brian Domonkos, NRCS water supply specialist. "Snowpack is currently positioned well for the remainder of the year provided near normal snowfall for the remaining season."
And the precipitation totals between those dry stretches so far this winter have been impressive. Since Oct. 1, the Flathead Basin has seen precipitation hit 120% of average. The mountains of Montana overall have seen rain and snow totals at 110% of average.
The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above average precipitation for Western and Central Montana through March. Of the rivers in Western Montana that feed the Columbia system, the Kootenai, Flathead and Upper Clark Fork are all running ahead of last year's snowpack. The Bitterroot and Lower Clark Fork are slightly behind last year.