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Flathead Valley snow streak hits top-10 mark

by Daily Inter Lake
| March 15, 2023 1:00 AM

While this winter in Northwest Montana has not been significantly snowy, it has been long.

According to data from the weather station at Glacier Park International Airport, Thursday marked 109 consecutive days since Flathead Valley residents last saw bare ground on Nov. 20, 2022.

That streak is in the top-10 all time. The all-time streak for consecutive days of measurable snow on the ground in Kalispell is 141 days, set during the 1955-56 winter. During that season, the snow finally melted on March 30, 1956.

Season-to-date, as of Thursday Kalispell has picked up just 45.3 inches of snow this winter, which is 3 inches below average for this time of year.

Northwest Montana's mountain snowpack percentages are mostly trending near normal for this time of year, according to the latest hydrology report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“There were not many days in February in which it wasn’t snowing somewhere in Montana,” said Eric Larson, NRCS water supply specialist.

According to Larson, the most significant February storm occurred near the end of the month, when the Mission and Swan ranges tallied more than 4 inches of precipitation.

The Flathead Basin snowpack on Thursday, March 9, was at 98% of average. The weather station in Noisy Basin in the Swan Range showed 108 inches of snow depth, with Flattop Mountain in Glacier National Park reporting 91 inches.

The Kootenai and Lower Clark Fork areas were trending below average, with snowpacks at 82% and 87% of average, respectively.

“River basins to keep an eye on over the next couple months are the Kootenai, Lower Clark Fork, Bitterroot, and Saint Mary. The basin-wide snowpack deficit in these basins currently ranges from three to six inches of snow water equivalent,” warned Larson.

These basins will need above-normal precipitation over the next couple months, otherwise snowmelt provided water supply will likely be below normal this spring, he said.

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