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Measuring snowfall

Posted by reg_pnw7 WA 7 sunset 4 (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 18, 12 at 13:38

So, in my little yard, snow accumulations vary greatly. I get huge drifts in some parts and just a dusting in others. To take accurate measurements of snow accumulation, how do I choose a spot? Obviously some place in the open, that doesn't get walked on/shoveled/driven on. Even so I can take readings in three different places and get three different measurements - south facing driveway median, north facing lawn between house and cherry tree, and east facing lawn.

Measuring on the deck would be easiest for me, since I don't have to put on boots to get there and I don't have to consider a couple inches of grass altering the measurement. But perhaps the deck is too close to the house, altering snow accumulation patterns? tho that is where the rain gauge is.

I also noticed yesterday that while my back yard had 4" snow, the lawn in the neighborhood park just a few blocks away had at least 8", both measured in untrampled areas. How does that happen?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Measuring snowfall

microconvergence zones?

always figured it was basically differences in air currents around microlandforms, and structures, trees etc.


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RE: Measuring snowfall

Unless all the snow in one weather event falls straight down, a house will have a major effect on the surrounding snow depths, as will a parked vehicle. Your rain gauge is likely far enough from the roof so that drops of rain are not bouncing off it and landing in the gauge.

The recent snow in Portland was in the form of showers and 1/4 mile (5 blocks) could easily see a 2- or 3:1 difference in snow depth.

For the first 2 or 3 inches, deck railings or fence tops can be accurate since they are a very small target. Past this depth, the snow tends to slough off, resulting in an uneven depth.


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RE: Measuring snowfall

I was kinda thinking along the same lines. I took measurements both in open spaces, as open as it gets in town at any rate, and on the deck railing and the chaise lounge for comparisons, and everything in my yard, deck, railing, chair, driveway, lawn was right around 12". There was no wind to speak of so that may have contributed to the consistency. And this snow was incredibly dry and powdery, so maybe that's why it piled up on the narrow deck railing to same depth as on the ground. I didn't expect it to be the same.

But the park down the street had way more snow than me, and people nearer the park reported upwards of 16" of snow, just a few blocks away from me. Kids trying to sled on it in the park were just sinking. No fun.


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RE: Measuring snowfall

So it must have snowed a lot more since your original measurements of 18 January. Seems like the snow totals are actually converging, ratio-wise.

Taking several measurements around your house and averaging is a good method.


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