Dear Bozeman: I Hope You’re Conserving Water Already. This Summer Ain’t Gonna Be Good
Snowpack levels are certainly not at ideal levels throughout southwest Montana at the end of March. A month that often sees big, wet dumps of snow just didn't materialize in 2022.
Fire season is coming very soon, even under normal conditions. There has already been much speculation about how bad it could get this summer, after a devastating fire season LAST year.
But for Gallatin County to be less than 75% of 'normal' at this point, things are looking very concerning. For the last two weeks, I've been closely monitoring these 'percent of normal' numbers and with every single day that passes, the percentage goes down. Not long ago, things didn't look very scary. Now I'm a bit scared.
There are two factors at play here: not enough snow and warm temperatures which is making whatever snowpack we have disappear quicker than normal. Is there a piece of decent news? Yes, sort of.
Current Montana Reservoir Storage - Interactive Map Some reservoirs that Montana communities depend on for their water aren't currently at dangerous levels. HOWEVER, some clearly are in trouble already. (The link above will connect you with monthly reservoir levels.) Levels across the state are literally all over the map.
- Lake Sherburne Reservoir Storage: 158% of NRCS 1991-2020 Average (northern Montana)
- Hungry Horse Lake Reservoir Storage: 123% of NRCS 1991-2020 Average (northern Montana)
- Gibson Reservoir Storage: 44% of NRCS 1991-2020 Average (west of Great Falls)
- Middle Creek Reservoir: 94% of NRCS 1991-2020 Average (south of Bozeman)
- Willow Creek (Harrison) Reservoir: 79% of NRCS 1991-2020 Average (southwest of Three Forks)
So what does this mean for Gallatin County? Who knows, but it certainly doesn't look good at the moment from the snowpack levels. That old "April Showers" thing better kick in for our area or we'll be facing similar conditions to last year.