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Despite continuing drought conditions in Montana, officials see some signs of improvement

 Drought conditions in Montana as of Oct. 26, 2021.
Drought conditions in Montana as of Oct. 26, 2021.

Officials with Montana’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee say the state’s drought conditions have persisted in the fall, but they’re cautiously optimistic about upcoming weather patterns.

Troy Blandford, a water system information manager for the state, said at the group's final meeting on Monday that the U.S. Drought Monitor shows some improvements in drought categories for the northwest and southeast corners of the state.

But overall, the state is worse off than it was this time last year.

“I think you can pretty quickly see we are in much higher categories this October than we were last October," Blandford said. "Most areas of the state are one or two classes, some are three classes higher than they were last summer, so we’re really starting out the water year in worse condition than last year."

Last winter Montana experienced a La Niña climate pattern. But despite the wetter, cooler temperatures it brought, it wasn’t enough to keep the state out of drought.

Arin Peters, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, says that may be different this year.

“The official three-month outlook for November, December, January does favor above-normal precipitation for pretty much the entire state,” Peters said.

The state is currently working on updating its drought management plan. A draft is anticipated by the end of 2022.

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