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Snow Measurement Instructions

The link below will take you to a movie that details how to measure snow. You will also need a player that is capable of displaying ".mov" files.  For best results, right click on the links and download the file to your computer by choosing the "Save As" option.

How to measure snow


USING A MEASURING STICK

Find a location where the snow appears to be near its average depth. This may be difficult if the snow has drifted. Look for a flat, somewhat open area away from buildings and trees. Some trees in the distance may be helpful by breaking the wind and preventing excessive drifting.

Measure the depth with a sturdy measuring stick, such as a ruler or a yardstick. Convert readings to the nearest tenth of an inch. Measure the depth at several locations and use an average depth if drifting has occurred.

Image describing snow measurement

When snow has fallen between observation times and has been melting, measure its greatest depth on the ground while it is still snowing, if possible, or estimate the greatest depth. If all snow melted as it fell, or snow is not deep enough to measure, enter a trace in the 24 hour snowfall column.

SNOW BOARDS

Snow boards are placed on top of old snow on the ground when there is any possibility of new snow falling. They may be made of thin lumber or other light material that will not sink into the snow, yet be heavy enough not to blow away. They should be painted white whenever possible. Push the snow board into the snow on the ground just far enough to make the top of the board level with the top of the snow. Boards should be cleared and placed in a new location after each observation, always making sure that the top of the board is flush with the snow on the ground.

Image of a snowboard

MEASURING NEW SNOW ON TOP OF OLD SNOW

When new snow has fallen on top of old snow, it is necessary to measure the depth of the new snow as well as the total depth of all snow on the ground. Snow boards provide the best method of taking measurements in this case (see above). If you do not have a snow board and the old snow has developed a crust or become packed, it may be possible to measure the new snow by inserting a measuring stick until it meets the crust of old snow. Snow also tends to darken over time as it remains on the ground, so it may be possible to cut a vertical core sample through the snow down to the ground and measure the new (whitest) snow depth along with the total snow depth.

 
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Page last modified: May 9th, 2008
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