Climate Data Reporting Toolkit

Undeniably, life revolves around water.  More specifically, Montanans highly depend on the scarce amount of water the state receives. Montana receives water as snow melt, precipitation, and inflow of water from other states and Canada. Of these, winter snow pack may be the most crucial source due to its ability to hold water for a slow release throughout the year. Snow pack is also the most threatened by climate change. According to the Montana Climate Assessment which was just released in 2017, historical observations show a shift toward earlier snowmelt and an earlier peak in spring runoff. It also mentions multi-year droughts that have been, and will continue to be, a natural feature of Montana’s climate. These statements have high agreement and robust evidence. Due to these issues, it is important for communities to plan according to when the ebb and flow of water will be arriving during the year.  For example, areas like the Blackfoot Valley have enacted their Drought Response Plan 12 times in 18 years. These are reasons why communities need climate data but often it is hidden somewhere on a website or it is not easily understood. Therefore, there is a critical need for Watershed Coordinators to be able to collect this information and synthesize it for distribution to their communities much like the “Blackfoot Challenge Weekly Irrigation Report” and the “Big Hole Watershed Committee Drought Management Plan.” 

Below are three levels in which Climate Data reporting can take place; Basin, Watershed, and Community level. Each level shows the sites in which data can be found and used in reporting at that level. Below that is more relevant information for developing your report.

Levels of Reporting

Types of Drought

No drought is exactly the same. In fact, there are five different types of drought with each having differing lengths of time, water availability, and impacts on economics.

To read about the various types of drought, visit the National Drought Mitigation Center webpage.