Wintering Weather – How to Measure Snow Properly

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Getting reliable snow and ice measurements from across the area is very important to the National Weather Service and TV stations like us here at WTAJ. To get this information, you need to know how to properly measure snowfall amounts.

Jonathan Guseman, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in State College, told us, “If we don’t get the reports callled in or relayed to us, We don’t know and there is no way for us to remotely sense, say with radar we can’t tell exact snow amounts so very important and we appreciate them all.”

The National Weather Service even uses a network of spotters, and you can sign up to help.

“You can contact us here at the weather service,  Aaron Tyburski he is our observations program leader. He trains all of our observers on temperature reporting, precipitation reports so it goes through that and we also touch on it in our storm spotter training. So we go through a winter weather segment where we detail how to do that in there as well,” said Jonathan Guseman.

If you want to measure snowfall properly, it doesn’t take much equipment, just a ruler and a board!

Aaron Tyburski, Observation Program Leader at the National Weather Service State College, said, “What we like to do is have a solid surface, somewhere in an open area, and you can also put some type of identifier, maybe a little pole with an orange flag on it, and or a piece of wood so that if snow does build up quite deep, You will know where your board is and you can measure that way as well. That is the best way to measure snow to get an accurate reading.”

A cutting board will work or a piece of wood, if you can, paint it white so that the snow does not melt as fast off of your board. The white board is important for accurate measurements.

Aaron Tyburski, told us, “If you don’t put down a board or something like that, and you just stick the ruler down into the grass, If we did that, the ruler goes all the way down to the dirt and the snow sitting on top of the grass may already be starting at 3″ or something like that so you get an inaccurate reading.”

We measure in tenths of an inch for recording snowfall, and you can also measure ice amounts during mixed events.

Aaron Tyburski said, “For ice, the best way to measure ice is using a tree branch, you go see the ice build up on a tree branch, and you would put your ruler along there and you would look at how far the ice goes from the center of the branch to the edge of the ice. You want to make sure you do not measure the entire encased branch because that would be double the amount.”

If you have any reports of snow or ice, make sure to submit to the National Weather Service or us here at WTAJ!

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