Montana Public Radio

Montana Spring Water Storage 'Normal' Heading Into Fire Season

May 18, 2020
Originally published on May 18, 2020 7:10 pm

A new report from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is tentatively hopeful about Montana’s spring water outlook heading into fire season.

Michael Downey with the DNRC says strong snowpack puts the state in good shape for a near-normal to normal summer, in terms of water storage. However, summer precipitation will still help determine the long-term supply moving forward.

“We’re just pawns in this game and mother nature’s going to serve up what she’s going to deliver. The next 6 weeks are really going to tell the tale,” Downey said.

Downey says 2017 also featured heavy snowpack, yet a hot, dry summer led to Montana’s worst fire season in more than 100 years.

The DNRC report shows some abnormally dry areas across northwest, west-central and northeast Montana this spring, largely due to an arid April. But, Downey says storms forecast east of the Continental Divide in the next several weeks may provide some relief. That’s good news for angler and irrigator alike.

Kevin Trevellyan is YPR’s Report For America statehouse reporter.

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