Montana DNRC Says Drought Conditions Improving in Big Sky Country
Montana has experienced several droughts in recent years.
Call it climate change, call it weather patterns, call it whatever you like... but the drought is real and its impact on Montana can be devastating, especially for farmers and ranchers. Drought is characterized by an extended period of abnormally low rainfall or snowfall, leading to a shortage of water for human consumption, agricultural activities, and the environment. There could be some relief this year, according to the latest info from the Montana Department of Natural Resouces and Conservation.
The last two years have been very, very dry.
2021 and 2022 saw dangerously dry conditions across large portions of Montana. While nearly 2 million acres of cropland are irrigated in the Treasure State, we have around 60 million acres of farms and ranches, most of it dry-land farms. When it doesn't rain, these farms and ranches are out of luck. Thankfully, 2023 could be a turnaround year for drought, if forecasters are correct.
Big snowpack and cooler temps this spring are a bonus.
Montana is prone to drought due to its arid and semi-arid climate. The state's high plains and mountain ranges are particularly vulnerable to drought, as they receive less rainfall and snow than other areas. Central Montana and the Hi-Line are areas that have been impacted severely by drought in the last couple of years.
According to the Montana DNRC report, "conditions are dramatically improved from one year ago according to the 2023 Montana Water Supply Outlook Report."
We're not out of the woods yet.
Michael Downey, Drought Program Coordinator with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation said,
The current streamflow forecast for much of the state is better than we have seen for quite some time, and this winter’s snowpack will provide ample runoff this spring and early summer.
He added that Montanans should continue to keep a close eye on short-term weather patterns, as prolonged warm and sunny conditions could release a substantial amount of water in a short time, resulting in local and potentially regional flooding.