Rain Helps Make Up For Dry May In Western Montana

Jun 3, 2015

The first part of June brought badly-needed rain to Montana, but it's barely making up for a particularly dry month of May.

National Weather Service hydrologist Ray Nickless says recent storms dumped almost two inches of rain near Polebridge in northwest Montana. That's normally how much rain Missoula gets during the entire month of May. 

"But during May we only got .76 inches, so we're kind of behind the 8-ball. This precipitation that we just had go through is certainly a blessing, because without that, things would just continue to get drier," Nickless says.

Streamflow in the Bitterroot and upper stretches of the Clark Fork river from Butte to Missoula are among the best in the region. Streams in northwest Montana continue to run low. Unseasonably hot and dry weather is expected by the weekend. Nickless doesn't think a few days of hot temperatures will cancel-out any of our recent moisture gains.

"We'd need longer stretches of lack of precipitation and warm temperatures; a week or two on end. But the longer we go without precipitation, you'll see streamflows start to taper-off pretty quick."

Nickless says long-term models are calling for more rain in the southwest United States this summer. It's a 50-50 chance that much of that makes it to western Montana. He says eastern Montana has a better shot of getting some of that residual moisture.