Montana's snowfall levels were off to a very slow start this winter, and remained well below average for months. However, a few recent heavy storms have dumped significant amounts of snow across most of Montana's western half, improving the water situation.

Western Montana is not "out of the woods" yet, but all of our SNOTEL measured basins have seen marked improvement. Places such as Madison County are currently at 84% of normal Snow Water Equivalent levels. The Kootenai basin in the very northwest part of Montana is now at 83% of normal.

Montana Monthly Water Supply Outlook Reports (WSOR) are put out monthly by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, and are usually availably by the 5th of each month January through June. (The February 2024 report was NOT promising.) This photo was taken in the Boulder Mountains south of Helena on February 1st, 2024.

Boulder Mountains Feb 1 2024 - USDA
Boulder Mountains Feb 1 2024 - USDA

Going back even further to January, things were getting dire in terms of Montana's snowpack. The report that was released in early February stated the following:

On January 1, 2024, more than half of NRCS snow monitoring stations in Montana and surrounding watersheds reported their lowest snowpack on record.

As of early March, 2024, Montana's snowpack levels have improved significantly. We can see the latest SNOTEL water equivalent levels below, and they're MUCH BETTER than they were two months ago. Madison County basin is already up to 84% of normal.

Snowpack Montana Mar 5 - USDA
Snowpack Montana Mar 5 - USDA
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We've come quite a long way in just over a month. Looking back to the January report, it also included the following: "For the snowpack to recover to normal conditions by May 1, given the current deficit, will require well above normal precipitation over the next three months. Even normal precipitation over the next three months would result in a record low snowpack at many locations across Montana."

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