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Weather Wise: Mountain Snow

Weather Wise: Mountain Snow
Posted at 5:24 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 19:24:24-04

Most of Montana remains in drought. Reservoirs and rivers appear low, but looks are not always what they seem.

Mountain snow water equivalent is above normal in Montana right now. Snow water equivalent is the amount of potential liquid in the snow base, and there's a lot of water in the hills.

The lowest numbers, that are still above average, are the Helena Valley area and the Madison Valley area at 111%. Most other areas in the state are between 120% of normal to 144% of normal. But closer to the Idaho border, the snow-water equivalent is between 153% to an incredible 176% of normal in the bitterroot.

How is this possible?

Well, you can thank the real spring Montana is having.

April and May have had below-average temperatures with significant mountain precipitation. After a low snow year, what's up there has not melted. At a time of year when the snowpack should be diminishing, it's actually increased because of active storms.

What does this mean?

The rivers, creeks and reservoirs that are low have yet to be replenished by the snowpack runoff. There's plenty of money in the bank, but it hasn't been spent yet. Eventually, mother nature will unlock this moisture and there is potential for some fast-moving cold water when temperatures heat up. But there's water on the way for anglers and motor boaters, and snow on the ground could somewhat limit wildfire potential.

Thank goodness for snow.