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Unusually Wet Conditions Bring Drought Relief To Montana

Montana drought status by county, May 1, 2017.
Montana DNRC
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Montana drought status by county, May 1, 2017.

Drought is not expected to be a major factor this year in Montana.

Here’s something Montanans don’t frequently hear this time of year:

“It’s very unusual for most of Montana to be as wet as it is at this point," says National Weather Service Meteorologist Bruce Bauck.

Bauck’s echoing the encouraging news recently delivered by the Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee:

“Last October we had record rains in northwest Montana. We had way above-normal rainfall in central Montana. This last winter we had normal to above-normal snowpack almost everywhere – even in the valleys. We’ve put a lot of moisture in the ground. We’ve really charged the ground well. There’s still a lot of snow in the higher peaks. We have a lot of water in the system right now.” 

Until recently Butte and Anaconda were slightly drier than normal, but that’s changed:

“Because of late spring snowfall. They were drier, now they’re back to more typical conditions, but we’re still keeping a little watch on them," Bauck says.

Scattered flooding could be problem in some places this spring and early summer. The Flathead River and Yellowtail Dam on the Bighorn River are two areas specifically cited by the Governor’s Drought Advisory Committee as potential candidates for flooding. But barring any significant rain storms, meteorologist Bruce Bauck isn’t expecting any major floods this spring.

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 edward.obrien@umt.edu.
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