NWS demonstrates how to properly measure snow

NWS demonstrates how to measure snow

The National Weather Service-Duluth shows the proper technique for measuring official snowfall totals.

Every time it snows, the National Weather Service publishes a list of snowfall totals. While each NWS office, including the one in Duluth, measures snow every six hours, the other snowfall measurements come from volunteers. Anyone is able to send in a measurement. 

“There’s a couple of different ways you can do it. You can just email our office directly or contact us on social media. But the best way to do it is to become a CoCoRaHS observer,” said NWS Duluth Meteorologist Ketzel Levens. “It’s an acronym for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Work Network. This is a network of citizen science volunteers across the United States, really. But folks who take daily observations of snow and precipitation and we really, really appreciate their observations.”

To measure snow properly, you first want to get a 2’ x 2’ piece of plywood or something similar to use as your measuring board. 

“If you don’t have a board, then you can just find whatever flat location you can find that’s going to be representative, not affected by too much drifting, but also not too close to any obstructions,” said Levens.

Place the board on top of the current snow (or soil if there is not snow) before it starts snowing. To make a snowfall observation, measure the snow on the board in three locations and take the average of the three for your official measurement. Many observers will measure every 24 hours. After you measure and record the amount and the time, scrape off the board entirely, and place it back on top of the snow to make the next measurement. 

More information about CoCoRaHs can be found here. A map of snowfall totals can be found at this website, and the updated list of totals can be found here