How to measure snow the right way

SALT LAKE CITY – You don’t have to be a professional to measure the amount of snow that accumulates during a winter storm in Utah. In fact, the National Weather Service relies on volunteers and the public—people like you and me—to provide snowfall measurements during winter weather events.

This means you could help deliver important information from your home during our next storm.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not as simple as plunging a ruler into the snow. Being specific is extremely important. In today’s blog post, we’re going to discuss how to accurately measure snowfall from your own home.

There are things you should and shouldn’t do, so let’s break it all down!

First of all, it’s about the prep work. Before the storm arrives, you want to make sure you have a flat surface to measure the snow. The National Weather Service says it’s best to use something like a snowboard or a sturdy piece of wood or cardboard. Preferably you are looking for something at least 2 feet by 2 feet.

No snowboarding? Other options include a picnic table or even a patio.

Once you have handled this piece, try to choose an open space for measurement. We’re talking about an area away from your home, trees, or anything else that could impact the buildup.

Now that you’re ready, it’s time for the fun part. Let’s talk measurement during the event!

When we assess the amount of accumulated snow, we are looking for fresh snow! The National Weather Service defines “new snowfall” as “the amount of snow that has fallen since your last measurement or since the first flakes began to fall.” So let’s go !

You generally want to take a measurement as soon as the snow has stopped and no more than four times a day. It’s just a good rule of thumb.

When you’re ready to measure, grab your straight wooden ruler or gauge. These are the best devices to use. We want to be precise, so try to avoid a tape measure. These can bend so easily! Take the ruler and stick it straight into the snow, making sure it’s perpendicular to the ground. Gently push it down. Your measurement should be recorded to the nearest tenth of an inch. For example, 4.4 inches or 8.2 inches.

It’s time to record your discoveries! You’ll want to write down your measurement and also take a photo. Then you can brush off the powder to be ready for more snow.

We love it when you send us your measurements! It is an invaluable tool for our meteorological community.

You can post your findings on our Utah Weather Authority Facebook page. Please be sure to provide your location. Also send your results to the National Weather Service. You can post your report on their Facebook or Twitter pages. In addition to this information, the National Weather Service also provides step-by-step instructions on how to do the job.

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