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Recent snow improves conditions Madison Valley, Snowpack remains below the 30-year median

Date: Mar 18, 2024

TYPE: News

Butte, Mont. –March 18, 2024 – Recent snowstorms in the Madison Valley brought area snowpack levels to 83% of the 30-year median level. The new moisture means the water situation is trending in the right direction, although additional above-normal snow fall this spring is needed to catch up to the 30-year median snow water equivalent numbers.

“March runoff forecasts from the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service are showing April-July runoff to be 80% of normal or lower,” NorthWestern Energy Director of Hydro Operations Jeremy Clotfelter said. “NorthWestern Energy continues to monitor conditions and forecasts closely, while working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other stakeholders on options to conserve water.”

NorthWestern Energy owns and operates the Hebgen Dam and the Madison Dam on the Madison River.

Hebgen Reservoir water is used to control the flows on the upper and lower Madison River year round to protect and maintain the long-term health of the river system and the fishery.

NorthWestern Energy’s stewardship responsibilities of the river resources include balancing the many interests of multiple stakeholders.

Hebgen Reservoir is 4.54 feet from full pool, about 3 feet higher than the 20-year average.

Water releases from Hegben Dam are at 825 cubic feet per second, enough to provide the flows below Madison Dam required by NorthWestern Energy’s FERC license. Holding minimum consistent flows through the winter and early spring help protect incubating brown trout eggs in redds, spawning nests in river gravel.

Current water levels at Hebgen Lake and flows and water temperatures are available at Learn more about NorthWestern Energy’s stewardship and management of the Madison River system at

The public is invited to a meeting from 6-8 p.m. April 22 at El Western, 4784 U.S. Highway 287, in Ennis to discuss Madison River topics, including snowpack and streamflow forecasts for the Madison River, fish populations and the projects sponsored by the Madison Fisheries Technical Advisory Committee. 

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NorthWestern Energy - Delivering a Bright Future

NorthWestern Energy, provides essential energy infrastructure and valuable services that enrich lives and empower communities while serving as long-term partners to our customers and communities. We work to deliver safe, reliable, and innovative energy solutions that create value for customers, communities, employees, and investors. We do this by providing low-cost and reliable service performed by highly-adaptable and skilled employees. We provide electricity and / or natural gas to approximately 775,300 customers in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Yellowstone National Park. Our operations in Montana and Yellowstone National Park are conducted through our subsidiary, NW Corp, and our operations in South Dakota and Nebraska are conducted through our subsidiary, NWE Public Service. We have provided service in South Dakota and Nebraska since 1923 and in Montana since 2002.

Media Contacts:

Jo Dee Black