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Weather Wise: How the latest storm affected the drought

Weather Wise: How the latest storm affect the drought
Posted at 6:34 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 20:37:22-04

With that incredible storm that came through Montana over the last several days, the history books were re-written as cold, snow and rain made it a record-breaker. Yet the question remains, is it enough to be a drought breaker?

Montana just endured one of the biggest storms of the year and certainly of recent memory. But heading into this storm much of the Treasure State was facing some level of drought, with Eastern Montana under extreme drought conditions.

Prior to the storm, the fine folks at the Glasgow National Weather Service compiled how much rain would be needed to pull the state out of drought. Before the storm, most of Northeast Montana had only received about 25-50% of normal precipitation, while central and western areas were generally between 50% of normal to close to average. Northeast Montana needed about 3 inches of rain to get close to normal, with the central and western areas needing 1-2 inches of rain.

The several-day-long storm produced record rain and snow for some areas of the state. Central and western areas had widespread totals of 1-3 inches of liquid equivalent. Some of the mountains had radar estimates of over 4 inches of liquid equivalent. Many of these areas are now above average for the year and for the water year.

Eastern Montana totals were more erratic. Some areas saw just under a half-inch, while isolated areas saw between 2-4 inches of rain.

Some areas of Montana will likely be removed from drought, but one record-breaking storm is not enough. Ideally, consistent precipitation is needed over an extended period of time to really end a drought.