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January snowpack declines following an exceptionally snowy December

Current U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions for Montana, Feb. 01, 2022.
National Integrated Drought Information System
Current U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions for Montana, Feb. 01, 2022.

After making significant gains in December, Montana’s mountain snowpack level took a slight dip in January. December’s exceptional snowfall continued right into the first week of January. Then the tap shut off. Clear skies and warmer-than-normal temperatures dominated the rest of the month.

Eric Larson is a snow survey hydrologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bozeman.

“All major river basins have a below-normal snowpack, except for the Lower Clark Fork, Kootenai and St. Mary’s River basins."

Last fall forecasters predicted a particularly cold and snowy La Niña winter for Montana.

The one month extended outlook again calls for an elevated chance of above normal precipitation, but Larson says that’s not a guarantee.

"The good news is there are still about 2 to 3 months remaining in our snow accumulation season."

As of last week, 85.9 percent of the state was still categorized as being in severe drought.

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
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