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January snowpack declines following an exceptionally snowy December

 Current U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions for Montana, Feb. 01, 2022.
National Integrated Drought Information System
Current U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions for Montana, Feb. 01, 2022.

December’s exceptional snowfall continued right into the first week of January — then the tap shut off. Clear skies and warmer-than-normal temperatures dominated the rest of the month, sending the state's mountain snowpack level into a slight dip.

“All major river basins have a below-normal snowpack, except for the Lower Clark Fork, Kootenai and St. Mary’s River basins," explained Eric Larson, a snow survey hydrologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bozeman.

Last fall forecasters predicted a particularly cold and snowy La Niña winter for Montana. The one-month extended outlook again calls for an elevated chance of above normal precipitation, but Larson says that’s not a guarantee.

"The good news is there are still about 2 to 3 months remaining in our snow accumulation season," he said.

As of last week, 85.9 percent of the state was still categorized as being in severe drought.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.