Drought potential reviewed at commission

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A dry start to the winter led the Beaverhead County Commissioners to hold an emergency drought task force meeting Feb. 19.

The last month, however, rendered that fear moot – for now.

National Weather Service Hydrologist Arin Peters told the commission that the northern part of the county was dry toward the end of January. But the one-fourth to one-half of an inch of precipitation in the last 30 days put the county at 100 percent to 400 percent of normal for precipitation at this point in the year.

Meanwhile, the northern counties in Montana are sitting at 400 percent to 800 percent of normal for precipitation so far, he said.

The Clark Canyon Reservoir is “looking pretty good” overall, Peters said, sitting at 90 percent full, with 156,000 acre feet of storage. The Lima Reservoir is at 59 percent full, but is still well above average storage for this time of year.

The weather service predicts the next few months will be above average temperaturewise, but not especially strong precipitation, he said.

The weather service is not predicting a drought in Beaverhead County at this time, but that will depend on the spring and runoff, Peters said.

“There’s still a lot of year yet to build the snowpack,” he said.

The next regularly scheduled Drought Task Force meeting will be in March.