Blog Posts In montana snow

Three Storms Coming, Each Bigger Than the Last

The Rockies are experiencing a series of small storms this week that have surprised some areas with substantial snowfall.  This weekend, a larger storm system will drop down from British Columbia, according to PowderChasers.

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The most exciting news for Western mountain snowpack is the coming of an even stronger system projected for the middle of next week.  The storm is set to move East across the Cascades and Sierras into the Rockies and the Wasatch.

The Pintlers, home to a substantial portion of the Big Hole Watershed's snow reserve, are currently engulfed in a ferocious looking snow cloud.

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I'm headed home to Wise River and the Big Hole Lodge for the long weekend and plan to break out the neoprene between these coming systems!

27" Inches out of this Storm

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Lost Trail Ski area, near the Top of the Big Hole Watershed, is reporting 27" new inches out of the latest storm system.  This brings the settled base depth to 85" and brings areas of the Watershed to 114% of historical average snowfall.  Basin wide, we are sitting pretty at 102% of average snow-water equivalent and 101% of average total precipitation.

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Winter's Coming....and why not? it's almost June

Since I left for work this morning at 6:30, it has been snowing off and on with about 3 inches now on the ground.  According to NOAA, a lot more is on the way....up to two feet!

Hazardous Weather Outlook

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTHWEST
MONTANA.BEAVERHEAD(Big Hole Lodge)-MADISON-GALLATIN-

A WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR ELEVATIONS ABOVE 6000
FEET.

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT TONIGHT THROUGH NOON
SUNDAY ABOVE 4000 FEET.

SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 12 TO 24 INCHES
  CAN BE EXPECTED ABOVE 6000 FEET BY MID DAY SUNDAY...WITH
  ISOLATED HIGHER AMOUNTS. FOR ELEVATIONS BELOW 6000 FEET...TOTAL
  SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 6 INCHES ARE EXPECTED...WITH MOST OF
  THE ACCUMULATING SNOWFALL OCCURRING AT NIGHT.

Big Hole Valley Snowpack Update

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The headwaters of the Big Hole sit high in these mountains

As I'm sure you all have heard, the West experienced a pretty mild winter. The skiing community would have you believe Old Man Winter forgot about the Northern Rockies this year, with resorts like Vail, Squaw, and Bridger Bowl still seeing grass poking through the snowpack in January.  There is no doubt that winter started uncharacteristically late, but after a dismal start Montana is back to 95% of historical average snowpack statewide.

The Upper Clark Fork basin is at 98% of average, the Bitterroot is sitting pretty at 105%, and in the Big Hole Valley, we are at 88% of average snow water equivalent and 96% of average precipitation to date.

Historically, Montana receives 80% of its snowpack by March 1st, and as we enter April we look forward to a stormy end to winter to bring us up to the "normal" snowpack benchmark.

We had a 5-year rain event last week that brought a lot of the low snow out of the fields and broke the ice out of the Big Hole, but in the high country that wet, dense snow will act as a cap when it freezes during the nights, ensuring the snow comes out more slowly when the bright sun of May hits.

I drove through the upper Big Hole on Tuesday to get a better look at the high country snow and things are looking pretty good:

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Goat Peak, from above the East Bank put-in

 

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Goat Peak, in the Pintler Wilderness

 

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Snow in the Pintlers and ice on the banks of the Big Hole 

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Mountains feeding the North Fork of the Big Hole

 

It was a nail-biting winter, but we are in good shape as we enter the spring.  Keep doing snow dances for good measure!

Winter Finally Returns to the Big Hole Valley

Gus hasn't been able to figure out what is wrong with us this winter.  I'm usually buzzing around on a snow-machine or skinning around in the mountains in search of deep turns, while dad is silently gliding through the woods on his cross-country skis with Gus in tow.   So far it has seemed that Old Man Winter and his mistress, La Nina, have forgotten Southwest Montana and the rest of the West.

It looks as if all that will change this week.  There has finally been a shift in the storm track, dropping it down from B.C. into Northwestern USA. Forecasts show that the ridge off the West Coast will be replaced with a trough as the ridge builds up over Alaska and low pressure sets up off the coast of Canada, directing a series of storms our way. This could set up a very good base of heavy dense snow pack mainly above 6,000 feet and a lot of water that we haven't seen in November and December!

We woke up to -8 degrees this morning and it looks like the snow will come in as the temps rise over the next few days.  Happy skiing now, until we can fish in the same water when it melts next summer!

Here's what's in store for the Upper Big Hole Valley and the mountains that feed the river: