By JOHN KIRK VINCENT/Montana State News

Snowpack in area mountains has tapered off after getting off to a better than average start this winter. But water content in the snow remains high.

Recent data collected and provided by the National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) has seen a gradual decrease in snow depth at a number of Gallatin County Snotel sites in the absence of any new substantial snowfall.

Gallatin County  is currently enjoying one of the best regional snowpacks..  The Bozeman Daily Chronicle previously reported an 8 percent increase over early January last year, while the statewide average fell short of last year by 3 percent.

Although the overall snowpack has suffered, the water content of this year’s snow has increased.  Local and other statewide sites have reported anywhere from a 10 to 30 percent increase in water content in the snowpack.

This surplus unfortunately may not save the ski season regionally.  But it could moderate the summer and fall fire season..

Longtime Bozemanite and avid hiker Britten Billis hopes this excess in moisture will dampen any and all of Mother Nature’s fiery ambitions.

“Last year was difficult,” she recalls. “After traveling for the first part of summer, I was eager to get back on the trail when I returned, only to face the worst smoke I’ve seen in years.”  She, and other locals, were forced indoors due to the conditions.

While surrounding states are facing erratic winter conditions both far above and below average, Montanans can only hope this wet trend continues.

— Edited by Autumn Toennis

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