How much snow this season?

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How much snow this season?

Postby sbosecker » Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:18 pm

From an earlier thread it sounds as if it was a mild winter. Based on those reports I would think the snowpack would be below average also.

Any reports regarding Glacier snowpack this year?

Less than average amount at this time? ...or what?

Thank you.

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Re: How much snow this season?

Postby Ear Mountain » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:59 am

The NRCS wrote:As of April 1, the St. Mary-Milk River Basin continues to have the highest percentage of normal at 106 percent, and the Bitterroot River Basin continues to be the lowest at 84 percent. “Overall, the variability in the weather patterns across the state balanced out during the month of March changing the statewide percentage of normal only 1 percent below where it was just a month ago on March 1,” said Brian Domonkos, NRCS water supply specialist. “That slight change brought the state to 92 percent of normal.”

Snowpack typically reaches its maximum during the month of April so weather in April has a big impact on the timing and volume of stream flows through the spring and into the summer. According to NRCS, warm weather experienced during the end of the month of March has begun to melt low-elevation snowpacks in most parts of the state. “The mid and upper elevations are still holding on, but are slowly beginning to trend in this direction,” Domonkos said. “Continued warm weather will most likely continue to change the snowpack at these elevations to isothermal, starting the larger scale runoff process.”

You can see the complete report as well as the snowpack values for all drainage basins in Montana here:
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Re: How much snow this season?

Postby trevbo » Fri Apr 12, 2013 1:24 pm

Good quote listed by Ralph above. As stated above, snowpack at the higher elevations only starts to drop in earnest in May, so 'tis still just a tad early!

That said, I would call this the 'average' year for snowpack, based the current Flattop and Many Glacier snotel sites. The sites are monitored for runoff forecasting and both are within the upper and lower quartiles for snow-water equivalent.

The Many Glacier site is at around 4,900 ft and snowpack has been dropping (as per the norm) since the beginning of April. Currently sitting at the lower quartile...

Flattop (situated at 6,300 ft) is currently slightly above the upper quartile and snow measurements are holding steady.

Snotel (tablular data) as follows

Quartiles graphed below (the following sites usually graph the snotel data but they have not been updated since March, for some reason).

However, given that Glacier is coming off a few consecutive above-average snowpack years, it would be easy to call spring 2013 a low snowpack year!
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Re: How much snow this season?

Postby Fairbanks142 » Fri May 03, 2013 9:21 am

I heard on the radio this morning that parts of Idaho and Montana are predicted to have higher than normal forest fire potential this summer due to the mild winter.

Looking at the US Forest Service preliminary report ( ... utlook.pdf), it looks like the area including Glacier is forecasted to have moderate drought, with more severe drought potential south and west of Glacier in Idaho and Montana.

Some excerpts from the above preliminary report:

• Below normal snow pack to date (April 21).State averages: 50-70% Montana and Idaho.

• Remainder of Spring (May, June): Above normal temperatures and normal precipitation are anticipated for Idaho and Montana.

• Below average snow pack may melt earlier in response to above normal spring temperatures.

• Summer (July, August, September): Above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation especially Idaho and western Montana with a relatively high confidence due to persistence of forecast trends.

• Fuels at all elevations should become receptive to fire by mid to late July with an above normal fire activity anticipated for August into September.

• Confident that the Northern Rockies will need additional resources this summer due to anticipated fire activity.
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Re: How much snow this season?

Postby scott-atl » Fri May 03, 2013 10:57 am

one of the worst fire seasons in glacier was after a heavy snow year including 4 feet in late may. hopefully we will have another wet spring thru june and we'll be ok.
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Re: How much snow this season?

Postby Pocketlint » Fri May 03, 2013 2:26 pm

While we aren't out of the woods, we're in better shape than parts of Montana West of here.
The Flattop Snowtel is showing snow/water above the 30 year average at this time and very close to 2012 levels.
All of the above is meaningless if we have unusual weather ahead of us.
It's always "wait and see" since there is no predicting the weather beyond a week or so...if that.

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Re: How much snow this season?

Postby Stmarypete » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:38 pm

I think we have had the unusual weather you were mentioning. Looking at the web cams the mountains are mostly bare above 6000 ft. The rivers in Idaho have seen the big spring run off and are running low and clear, making trout fishing very good. Brundage Mountain ski area web cam shows the mountain to be pretty much bare at 7800ft, usually this time of year you can still ski there. I am thinking we will have an earlier opening of trails this year. The fire season is so unpredictable, maybe we will have heavy rain a few times without the lightning strikes, I hope.
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