Much of the Western US experienced record breaking winter storms over the past few weeks. The precipitation, much of it falling as mountain snow, provided a big boost for the snowpack report from California to Colorado to Montana. Even as our team fishes in winter, we pay close attention to snowpack. Here is our January report for snowpack in the western US including Colorado and Montana.
For snowpack levels in local watersheds, use this interactive tool from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s National Water and Climate Center.
California’s northern Sierra mountains sit well above 150% of average for this time of year. Much of Colorado’s headwater drainages are at or slightly above normal. Oregon and Washington coastal fisheries, as well as west-slope drainages, received a massive boost over the past few weeks as well. Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming rivers, with the exception of the Smith River, all are in good shape at the moment.
With the recent storms on the Pacific Coast and several moisture-filled storms moving down from Canada, anglers hoping for a near-normal summer of streamflows and trout-friendly water temperatures can be optimistic. However, even with a good start to 2022 the waves of moisture need to continue to make up for a lackluster 2021 and decrease the grip of drought on several areas of the West.
Stay tuned to onWater for updates.
Local avalanche scientists in the northern Sierras liken the abrupt change in conditions to the flipping of a switch. This is discussed in the “State of the Snowpack” in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Locals discuss the drastic change in such a short time span.
In Colorado’s backcountry and Western Slope, snowpack levels now show a reduced drought level for summer. If normal weather patterns occur over the next few months, the region may see a less drought-affected summer.
Montana hasn’t fared as well as the northern Sierras or Western Slope of Colorado, but things have improved greatly in the past few weeks. This article in Missoula Current discusses the current situation and how it may relate to summer-time conditions.