River level, rainfall above average
By Jason Stuart
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
One thing Dawson County isn’t hurting for to start 2014 is water.
Frequent rain throughout this spring, and the month of May in particular, has put the area ahead of the curve in terms of its average annual precipitation.
“You are sitting at about 5.82 inches (of precipitation) for the year so far, and normal is 4.57 inches,” said Tanja Fransen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Glasgow reporting station, on May 29.
A good deal of that fell in May, when spring thunderstorms regularly buffeted the region, often bringing with them heavy, sustained downpours.
Since Fransen made her comments, another major storm system blew through the region on Saturday, May 31. Saturday’s storm dumped 1.35 inches of rain in Glendive, bringing the final total for the month to 4.85 inches. The average is 2.23 inches. Saturday’s deluge upped the year-to-date total to 7.17 inches.
“That’s a nice, healthy amount,” Fransen said. “You are looking pretty good. I’m sure the farmers are enjoying that.”
The two local irrigation districts are certainly benefitting from the wet weather.
“Rain’s the best irrigation water of all,” said Mike Carlson, manager of the Buffalo Rapids Irrigation District No. 1.
The Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project primed the Intake canal on May 12, according to manager James Brower, but has seen little demand since then.
As of Friday morning, the river measured 50.72 feet at the Glendive gauging station. The weather service is forecasting the river to hit 51.7 feet by Tuesday.
The weather service considers 51.5 feet to be “action stage” to prepare for possible flooding. Flood stage is 53.5 feet.
“We expect to see a steady rise,” Fransen said. “I could see it making some minor flooding at some point. It’s worth keeping an eye on it.”
“The Beartooth Mountains and places like that still have over 20 feet of snow,” Fransen said. “(The Yellowstone) is going to come up and stay up for a few weeks yet.”
The long term forecast for the area calls for more of what the region has experienced so far this spring — cooler temperatures and wet weather.
“The climatic outlook for June has below normal temperatures and you’re right on the edge of above normal precipitation,” Fransen said.
Reach Jason Stuart at email@example.com.