I know looking out the window at more snow is not exactly a welcoming image. But there IS good news that goes along with all the snow we have seen.

The Montana snowpack is good, and in some cases REAL good.

I thought of looking at the United Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Water, and Climate Center website for a look at the current statewide snow conditions. The map you see below is the ‘Snow Water Equivalent- Percentage of Normal’.

Snowpack- photo from USDA.gov

The ‘normal’ is calculated on a 20-year average. Most of the numbers are really good, the yellow portions are the Lower Clark Fork drainage at 89% of average, the Kootenai at 80% (the lowest in the state), and the St. Mary’s drainage at 83% of that 20-year average.

The Green are the areas that are all right in the neighborhood of that 20-year average. The large chunk of Light Blue is all over average, the Madison drainage sits at 127%, Jefferson 114%, the Upper Yellowstone at 111%, and the Smith-Judith-Musselshell basin, looking pretty at 122% of that 20-year average.

Then the Milk River Basin as of today is at 239% of that 20-year average, some great news for the farmers/ranchers and everyone on the hi-line.

Some of the current snow depths around the state are pretty crazy.

The highest number I could find in Montana was a 135-inch depth, recorded at Black Bear, with an elevation of 8170 feet. Black Bear is right on the Montana-Idaho border, just outside of Yellowstone Park. Warm Springs north of Anaconda has a current snow depth of 73 inches.

Just north of Missoula, Stuart Mountain (7400ft) shows 87 inches. Farther north there are a couple of 100+ inch readings. Moss Peak (6780ft), southeast of Finley Point on Flathead shows 107 inches of snow. Noisy Basin (6040ft) northeast of Flathead shows 106 inches of snow.

So there is a bit of a silver lining to the clouds that keep dropping snow. When it finally stops, our rivers and lakes should be in great shape for summer.

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