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APRIL, 5 2016

Wondering how this unusual winter weather has effected Broadwater County streams, rivers, reservoirs, creeks, & canals? Recent Data can give us an insight of water supply here in the county:funfact

  • Snowpack has increased since March
  • Canyon Ferry Reservoir inflow & levels are lower than 2015.
  • Deep Creek stream flow significantly less than 2015.

I don’t know about you, but I have found that I have asked this question to myself quite a few times this year…”What’s with this weather?”.  This is a tough question to answer, but recent data on snowpack levels, Deep Creek stream flows, and Canyon Ferry Reservoir can give us an idea. Recently, the data has been normal throughout the county but comparisons from past years are presenting us with interesting tendencies.

SnoTel data demonstrates both stations have not only had an increase in snowpack since last month, but also a significant jump from last year.  This year we have received 20-35% more of our average Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) than last year.  That is a HUGE difference.  Not only has our SWE improved from last year, but snow depth has also amplified  since April 2015.  But, don’t get your hopes up too soon, snowpack is about the only thing that has improved since last year.   Deep Creek discharge presents a major variance from April 2015.  Near the mouth of the creek, discharge currently is a 12 cfs less than last year on April 5th.  Other locations along Deep Creek also appear to be experiencing the same levels.  And that is Toston Damnot the only discharge decrease, inflow into Canyon Ferry Reservoir is also low.  The 2016 mean inflow on April 5 was 4166.20 cfs.  In 2015 mean inflow on April 5 was 4717.58 cfs.  That is roughly a 550 cfs difference.  As for the Reservoir levels, Canyon Ferry is 3% lower than last year and currently at 71% of it’s capacity.  Last year at this time, in April, it was at 75% of it’s capacity.  Overall, April water supply in Broadwater County shows lower trends than the previous year.

So why is the snowpack so much higher, but the stream flow so much lower?  This is yet another hard question to answer.  Different inclinations could be due to a number of different things, one of those more obvious factors being temperature.  Last year on April 5th, the daily mean temperature at both the Boulder Mountain and Tizer Basin SnoTel Stations was 4 degrees higher than this year.   Other factors that can affect stream flow and snow pack include vegetation cover, rain during the snow melt, soil moisture, and amount of precipitation.  So, as hard as it is to believe, Broadwater County is still showing normal water supply tendencies.  So, when you find yourself asking “what’s with this weather” just take a minute to appreciate it because you never know what is right around the corner and you know what they say, “If you don’t like the weather here in Montana, wait five minutes.”

Boulder Mountain (Big Belts) Remains NORMAL        Tizer Basin (Elkhorns) Slightly BELOW Normal.


Deep Creek stream flow is generally AVERAGE, but significantly less than Last Year.

DC streamflow

Let’s continue being strong stewards of the land and prepare to be more DROUGHT RESILIANT as we raise our crops, provide food for others, tend to our critters, our gardens, and responsibly use these amazing natural resources that surround us. Look for monthly Water Supply Forecast updates throughout Broadwater County,  or in the “Broadwater Reporter”! If you are interested in receiving this information via e-mail or mail contact Katie Mumford, Big Sky Watershed Corps Member, at the Broadwater Conservation District in Townsend.   or     406-266-3146 x102

     All of the information above can be accessed at


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