Drought over—for now

Montana State Roundup

Published September 1, 2005  | September 2005 issue

One of the wettest Junes in more than 100 years has ended Montana's prolonged drought, at least for now. Rainfall, surface water and crop reports gathered by the state Drought Advisory Committee in July indicated that 42 of 56 counties were drought-free, with severe conditions persisting in only Sanders and Ravalli counties. At the same time in 2004, 23 counties suffered from severe drought.

Heavy spring rains filled all but two federally operated reservoirs in the state. The soil in most areas was twice as moist as the average over the past five years, leading to forecasts of strong wheat crops.

But committee staff said that all the rain hadn't erased the long-term effects of six years of drought, such as depleted groundwater. A long spell of hot, dry weather could slow or reverse drought recovery.

Phil Davies