How Official Snow Observations are Made

It’s not just the snow that made things difficult Tuesday, but it’s the wind as well.

Driving down the road may be difficult but even something as simple as measuring snow can also be a complicated process. Quad Cities National Weather Service Meteorologist Tom Philip gave us a look into how he collects the official Quad Cities observation.

Tom measures the snow in a couple of different ways. First, he uses your average rain gauge to collect the snow. The snow is then melted inside to calculate its water equivalent.

Tuesday’s heavier wet snow ended up being about ten inches of snow for every once inch of rain.

Next, a measuring stick is placed on two separate white boards in a field away from buildings and trees that could skew the readings. By using and cleaning off these white boards every time the snow is measured, they are not measuring old snow with freshly fallen snow.

The boards are not wind-proof, so a couple of measurements were taken on the pavement where the snow seemed to fight the best battle with the wind as well.



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