Winter precipitation is running above average - but Montana needs more

Posted at 6:41 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 11:04:13-05

Central Montana received between a tenth and a half of an inch of precipitation during the last week - in some areas, that's the most precipitation seen since late November. However, has this led to improvements in central Montana's ongoing drought?

The updated drought monitor was released Thursday morning and while improvements have been made, they have been fairly minute. In the last month, there has been about a 3% decrease in coverage of the highest tier on the drought monitor, exceptional drought. However, central Montana still remains in the most severe drought compared to other regions in the state.

Looking back to this time in 2021, the majority of the state was abnormally dry with portions of the state experiencing a moderate drought. The drought worsened throughout summer and fall, with slow improvements during winter. The state currently has the lowest area covered by exceptional drought since mid-July.

Northeastern Montana is one area that has yet to see improvements to overall precipitation during the winter months.

December to February PrecipitationDecember to February Normal Precipitation
Great Falls2.23 inches1.67 inches
Glasgow1.13 inches1.22 inches
Cut Bank0.99 inches0.76 inches

While the above normal precipitation is promising, we need to look to the water year values to really gauge where we stand. Water years run from October 1st-September 30th. River basins rely on the moisture in the snow that falls following October 1st throughout late spring and summer.

Water Year Precipitation Thus FarPercentage of Normal
Great Falls2.63"82.4%
Cut Bank1.64"98.8%

Generally, central Montana is running about 80-100% of normal with respect to the water year. Aside from northeastern Montana, there have been imporvement.

The Climate Prediction Center also released a monthly precipitation outlook for the month of March. It does indicate a 40-50% likelihood of above normal precipitation for the month of March. Of course, this could change so be sure to keep tuning in to KRTV for continued updates.


Courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center.