Sunday, January 9, 2011

About That Snowpack

Way Above Last Year
growing and growing and growing

.. Soon after the black eyed peas have been eaten and shortly after the first mess of fish have been smoked and shared, conversation in the grocery stores and post office turns to the accumulation of snow.
.. Right now the conversation is mildly optimistic and the hope is for continued and increased snow fall, and a not too warm spring.
.. This year's rapid accumulation and frigid temperatures have some of the old-timers worried about ice jams, fluctuating stream flows and flooding. The conditions are ripe.
.. As we speak the Montana snowpack is 46% above last year and a healthy 12% above average, (see Great Falls Tribune.)
.. On January 1, 2011 mountain snow-water content was 112% of average and 146% of last year.
.. **West of the Continental Divide mountain snow-water content was 106% of average and 142% of last year.
.. **East of the continental divide mountain snow-water content was 112% of average and 139% of last year, (see KBZK dot com.)
.. The Madison River Drainage Basin is at 121% of average and 168% above last year. The Yellowstone River Drainage Basin is 114% of average and 145% above last year. The Gallatin River Drainage is 116% of average and 151% of last year.
.. As of January 1, all Montana streamflows are forecast to average 101 percent, for the period April 1 through July 31.
.. **West of the Continental Divide, January 1 streamflows were forecast to average 104%  for that period.
.. **East of the Continental Divide, January 1 streamflows are forecast to average 99% during that time, (see Clark Fork Chronicle.)
.. These are promising figures -- BUT, about 1/2 of the snow season remains and anything, (good or bad,) could happen. The near term forecast is for good. We'll keep you posted.
.. There's an additional 4" to 14" of snow forecast for the next 5 days and the temperatures are beginning to look like winter, (-20's to -30's.) Happily the daytime highs will be about + 3 to +5.
.. It's getting deep in West Yellowstone and the sledheads are enjoying the snow and frequent fresh powder. Cross country skiers and biathlon teams from around the world are also having a grand time.
.. The Madison River in Yellowstone National Park is running with occasional frozen slush. It takes about 10 days of -40° for lows and 0° or less for highs to put a skin of ice on the river. This could happen anytime between now and mid February. It's unusual but not that rare.