Early 2022 Montana Snowpack Update

Early 2022 Montana Snowpack Update

Happy New Year, everyone. It’s very early to start making any assumptions about snowpack for 2022, but we still wanted to give a brief update.

Early snowfall through autumn and early winter was sparse in the region. Late November and early December in particular were warm and dry. At its lowest, snowpack in the region ranged from roughly 50% to 65% of normal for the date. Potentially catastrophic, in other words, especially given the 2021 drought.

Thankfully, conditions have improved markedly. While the big snows hitting the West Coast and Utah have mostly gone just to our south and west, we’re still in decent shape for the date. Right now, drainage basins within the PFS operations area are at 88% to 116% of normal for the date. The most important basins, the Yellowstone in WY and YNP and downstream in Montana, are at 97% and 88%, respectively.

Here’s a graphic, with our operations area circled in red. This map is updated daily at this link.

early january snowpack for the Western United States

We are forecast to get more moisture this upcoming week, before week two in the long-range outlook gets warm and dry (for the time of year). The extended outlooks from NOAA forecast a return to cold/wet for the latter half of January and continuing through winter.

I think odds are good we wind up with a snowpack in the 90-110% range for most drainages in our operations area, absent an early warmup. With the region in severe to extreme drought after the low snowpack and blazing hot/dry summer in 2021, we would rather see 110% or even 120% of normal snowpack, to give us a bit of a cushion.

We’ll provide an update on the snowpack with more detail in early February.

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