Data shows snow levels favorable for Yellowstone River basin

February brought a notable change to the weather patterns that were experienced during the month of January, according to snowpack data collected by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service of Montana.
The lower Yellowstone River Basin, including the Park City and Laurel area, received 196 percent of the monthly snow water average in February. The yearly water average sits at182 percent over last year’s amount.
Lucas Zukiewicz, NRCS water supply specialist for Montana, said all basins experienced substantial improvements over the month with many now at near to above normal for March 1, and most basins are also near to above last year at this time.
“There are some sub-basins that remain below normal for this date due to the late onset of snowpack this year and sub-par November and January snowfall,” Zukiewicz said. “One major basin is still recovering from near record low early season snow. The Smith-Judith-Musselshell will be reliant on spring precipitation to make up ground before spring and summer runoff.”
February typically isn’t one of the “big” snow months for Montana, he said, but this year proved otherwise. As we make the transition into spring, precipitation is favored along and east of the Continental Divide.
“Near normal conditions on this date is great news, but there is still a month to a month and a half before snowpack generally peaks in the mountains of Montana,” Zukiewicz said. “The coming months and their weather patterns will play a critical role in the timing and magnitudes of water in the rivers this coming spring and summer.”
Streamflow forecasts across the state reflect the near to above normal snowpack in many basins, and above average water year-to-date The Monthly Water Supply Outlook Reports can be viewed after the fifth business day of the month at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/mt/snow/waterproducts/basin/

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