How to measure snow correctly

SALT LAKE CITY — You don’t have to be a pro to measure how much snow 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.

That means you can provide critical information from home during our next storm.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not as easy as simply dipping a ruler into the snow. Being precise is incredibly 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 things first, it’s all about the prep work. Before the storm hits, make sure you have a level surface to measure the snow on. The National Weather Service says it’s best to use something like a snowboard or a sturdy piece of wood or cardboard. Preferably look for something that is at least 2 feet by 2 feet.

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

Once you’ve handled this part, try to pick an empty spot to measure. We’re talking an area away from your home, trees, or anything else that might affect accumulation.

Now that you’re set up, it’s time for the fun part. Let’s talk about measuring during the event!

When we evaluate how much snow has accumulated, we look for the fresh material! The National Weather Service defines “new snowfall” as “the amount of snow that has fallen since you last measured it or since the first flakes began to fall.” So let’s tackle it!

Typically, you want to take a reading as soon as the snow has stopped and no more than four times a day. That’s just a good rule of thumb.

When you’re ready to measure, grab your straight wooden ruler or yardstick. These are the best devices you can use. We aim to be precise, so avoid using a tape measure. They 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 all the way down. Your measurement should be recorded to the nearest tenth of an inch. For example 4.4 inches or 8.2 inches.

Time to record your results! You should write down your measurement and also take a photo. Then you can brush off the powder snow so you’re ready for more snow.

We love it when you send us your measurements! It’s a valuable tool for our weather community.

You can post your results with us Utah Weather Authority Facebook page. Please make sure to include your location. Also, submit 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 offers step-by-step instructions on how to get the job done.

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