Drought Conditions Worsen in Montana


On Thursday at their month of July meeting, the Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee added 9 more counties to their “Drought Alert” list – including Powell, Ravalli, Missoula, Sanders, Sweet Grass, Stillwater, Carbon, Carter and Yellowstone…and those 9 are in addition to the four counties that were identified back in June – (Glacier, Teton, Pondera and Lewis & Clark).  


The grim drought news last week included:

Despite mid-July rains, the previous monthly precipitation totals were 35-43{75e25ebeb47fb4337942be2c10689dca1c292c2a66240b62c5ca4214f5b25ecc} of normal in areas like:

o   along the Rocky Mountain Front

o   South central and Southeast counties, 

o   and some areas west of the divide. 


·         Over the past 16 months, April 2015-July 2016 precipitation totals have been well below average, especially west of the Continental Divide.  


·         Drought signals include early melting of snow…above average temperatures…below normal streamflow…and a really dry June. 


·         Groundwater levels appear to be dropping, as indicated by levels in water wells.


When a county is under a “Drought Alert, county commissioners are encouraged to work with their local response efforts, especially FSA County Executive Directors (CEDs) who can document any impacts.  This information can then be used to inform the drought response process at the federal level, including USDA drought relief programs.


“Drought Alert” status in these 14 counties also puts those counties on notice for emergency response, should conditions continue to deteriorate.  


The next meeting of the Committee will be on August 18 at 9am at the state capitol.  



© Northern Ag Network 2016



Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS

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