How do you measure depth of snow?

January 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

How do you measure snow depth properly (i.e.World Meterological Organisation approved method)?
Measuring the depth of lying snow is not quite as simple as sticking a rule (ruler) in and taking a measurement. To be really accurate and “by the book” do the following:

  1. Place a white board down before it snows, away from trees and buildings. 
  2. Find a graduated ruler or graduate your own stick in cm / mm.
  3. Find a patch of untrampled and undrifted snow which has a clear sky view, away from trees and buildings.
  4. Take 10 measurements holding the rule vertically and read the depth carefully in cm. Note down the measurements. Disregard the highest and lowest reading.
  5. Take the average of the rest as the “depth of snow” reading.
  6. Note the maximum and minimum depths within the area too.

how to measure snow fall

Note that old snow (>1day) will become compacted so increasing depth of snowfall on top of old layers becomes inaccurate.
To measure “fresh snowfall” on top of old snow place a “board” (snow board?!) over the old layer before it starts snowing again.  Remember where your board is (mark with a stick!) and measure fresh snowfall there. Repeat with further boards if you live somewhere like Alaska.

So, you don’t need any high tech equipment to measure snow, infact, technology has lagged behind in this regard. All you need is YOU, a stick, a pencil and paper and… some snow.

Now have fun and get measuring snow depth where you are and please send us some measurements from your area! 🙂

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