Montana is in “Wait and See Mode” When it Comes to Summer Drought
One of the biggest storms of the year just swept through Montana, but there is still drought in the Treasure State. Michael Downey, Water Planning Section Supervisor of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Water Resources Division, says those really hot temperatures provide the biggest problems.
“Here in Montana, our highest precipitation months are in May and June,” Downey said. “We are still in a little bit of a wait and see mode. If you look back over the last 20 years when we have been in a drought in April and May, in about half of those years it gets better by the end of July and in the other half it gets worse. We still don’t know. A lot of it is going to depend on temperature and how hot it gets.”
According to Downey, 2017 was especially unprecedented when it came to drought in Montana.
“In that year, we had a really good snow pack and it was a better snow pack than we had this year,” Downey said. “All of the predictions were that we were in good shape and then the moisture shut off and it got hot. For western Montana, that summer precipitation is so important. If it doesn’t get too hot and we keep things going through June, we may not be in half bad shape.”
Downey said there are a handful of things we can do as individuals to help conserve the water in our state.
“One of the big things people can do is they can water for a little longer, but less often,” Downey said. “That certainly helps and it gets that water down into the roots as opposed to just leaving it on top where a lot of that is going to evaporate. Let your car stay a little bit dirtier for a little bit longer.”
Downey said a cooler and rainier June is going to make for a much nicer July, August, and September.