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Montana Snowpack Well Below Average Says NRCS

Josh Burnham
Near Gold Creek in the Big Blackfoot Drainage, Montana

Montana water users are being told to brace for early and below-average snow-melt runoff this spring. The Natural Resources Conservation Service reports snowpack in all of Montana's basins are well below normal for May first.

NRCS Water Supply Specialist, Lucas Zukiewicz, says streamflow forecasts are below average for virtually all of Montana's streams.

"One of the good things we have is carryover storage in our reservoirs, but as we use up that water for irrigation purposes and to supplement flows in our rivers, later in the summer we could see very low streamflow levels which could have an impact on fisheries and irrigators across the state."

On May first, statewide snowpack was 61-percent of normal and 39-percent of last year at this time.
This month and next will be critical in terms of rainfall. If the state doesn't get much precipitation, it could be a particularly dry summer.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at