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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Montana was 'disappointingly dry' in February, NRCS says

A March 1, 2022 map showing snow-water equivalent in Montana as a percentage of the NRCS 1991-2020 median.  The far northwest corner of the state has between 90 and 100 percent of the median amount. Most of the rest of the state is in the 70 to 90 percent range.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
A March 1, 2022 map showing snow-water equivalent in Montana as a percentage of the NRCS 1991-2020 median.

Snowpack experts say Montana was "disappointingly dry" last month, further eroding the state’s already dwindling snowpack.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bozeman says a stubborn ridge of high pressure last month blocked badly needed moisture from flowing into the Rockies.

NRCS snow survey hydrologist Eric Larson says there’s generally less snowpack in the state than there was at this time last year. Southwest Montana has so far only received 50 percent to 80 percent of its typical precipitation, and even set record low accumulations for February.

“[The] Upper Yellowstone, Madison, Gallatin and south, southwest Montana definitely need a good two-to-three-foot storm to put us back on track,” Larson says.

That’s a heavy lift, but Larson says it’s neither impossible nor unprecedented. While western Montana tends to get most of its precipitation during the winter months, southwest and eastern Montana typically benefit the most from springtime precipitation.