(Hungry Horse Dam on the South Fork of the Flathead River, 15 miles south of the west entrance to Glacier National Park and 20 miles northeast of Kalispell. Hungry Horse Dam is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation and is Montana's highest and the eleventh largest project.)
As the growing season gets underway, the DNRC Water Management Bureau is starting up its seasonal basin water supply newsletters again.
Things in the Clark Fork and Kootenai basins are looking pretty good right now as far as drought is concerned. We continue to monitor the Upper Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers after the last two years of drought conditions, but these river basins have rebounded in terms of soil moisture and snowpack. We will be watching conditions closely for any impacts to stream flows due to spikes in temperature or extended dry periods.
Across the Clark Fork and Kootenai all valley snow has melted off by now, but mountain snowpack above 6,000 feet is either continuing to accumulate or holding steady at above average levels. As of April 14, 2017, all basins west of the divide were above 100% of normal for Snow Water Equivalent (SWE). Barring an extremely warm spring, there is cautious optimism that this year will yield a more typical growing season.
The outlook for April-May-June indicates a 33-40% chance of more precipitation and equal chances of above, normal, or below normal temperatures for the Clark Fork and Kootenai basins. Read more at the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.
Flooding on the Flathead is a growing concern, with an 80% chance of the river rising to the 13 foot flood level and a 40% chance of it exceeding the 14 foot flood level. A flood warning will be issued by the National Weather Service if Flathead Lake reaches above 2,892 feet, which is a foot below full capacity, and the Flathead River is at 13-14 feet.
Below, you'll find links to various information to learn more about the water supplies in your area. You can view the March 2017 DNRC Drought Report Here.
The next meeting of the Governor's Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee (DWSAC) will be on April 28th from 2:30-4:30 at the DEQ Metcalf Building, Room 111 in Helena. To keep an eye on the update of the Montana Drought Management Plan (MDMP) click here.
If you have any edits or feedback, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Ada C. Montague
State Water Planner for the Clark Fork & Kootenai Basins
Staff for the Governor's Water Supply Advisory Committee
DNRC Water Management Bureau