Snowpack Levels Normal to Above Normal - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Snowpack Levels Normal to Above Normal

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BILLINGS -

Snow, snow and more snow this winter. Yet, the National Weather Service says we're looking at normal to above normal levels of snow pack right now.

Billings got record numbers of snow so far this season - nearly 65 inches through February 11. The National Weather Service meteorologists say it's too early to tell how the snowpack is going to affect us.

"We usually experience building more snowpack through the month of March up until April," said Keith Meier, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "And that's usually when snowpack reaches its peak so the snowpack in early April actually gives us a better indication of what the runoff season would look like."

If it melts gradually, there won't be as much flooding in hotter weather. If snow comes off the mountain quickly along with heavy rainfall, there could be flooding like in 2011. But it's not only the amount of water that will affect fishing, it's also the temperature.

"For fishing the ideal is to get fairly normal runoff," said Ken Frazer, Fish, Wildlife, and Park fisheries program manager. "Not too fast and not flooding, but not extended over a long period of so that you have minimum amount of time when the stream flows are high."

Snowpack also affects fire season. Lockwood Fire Chief Bill Rash says the moisture from snowpack is beneficial, but it'll also allow more vegetation to grow, which can become fire fuel when it's dry.

"But then again, if we have a heat wave so to speak and we lose all our mountain snow pack and we don't get those rains that we would like to see then at that point in time, we're going to have some real challenges," Rash said.

The National Weather Service says you should consistently check the snowpack levels if you live near waterways.

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