On Tuesday night, Lucas Zukiewicz and Eric Larsen from the NRCS Montana Snow Survey came down from Bozeman to give a presentation about our current snowpack conditions here in southwest Montana. The news was mostly good (for now): Beaverhead SNOTEL sites are between 95% and 120% of average for this time of year. The Jefferson River Basin’s snow water equivalent (SWE) is at 108% of average for this time of year which is currently the best in the state for any basin. However, typically we have only accumulated 35-40% of our annual snowpack by the end of January, and January’s precipitation to date is only 63% of average. Therefore February, March, and April still need to deliver good snow before we can count our chickens. Hopefully the El Nino continues to deliver the southwesterly storms that have been good to us thus far.
Lucas and Eric are working hard to bring several additional SNOTEL sites online in Beaverhead County. One important one for the Beaverhead will be Dad Creek Lake which is in the Horse Prairie/Medicine Lodge area, and will hopefully come online next year. Another potential new site which should make folks in the Big Hole happy is the Slag-A-Melt Lake Site in the Beaverhead Mountains, which Lucas and Eric went up to survey on Wednesday. For more information, check out the presentation from Tuesday night’s meeting and these other NRCS Montana Snow Survey links:
NRCS Snow Survey Presentation 1.26.16