Science with Shields: Episode #22 – Snow Ratio


ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — In this episode of Science with Shields, Christy Shields shows you how to find the snow ratio.

What you need:

  • Snow
  • Clear Jar
  • Measuring tape or ruler


Collect snow in a clear jar. Measure how much snow is in the jar. For this experiment, we measured 2″ of snowfall.

Next, you let it sit inside and wait for it to melt. If you don’t want to wait for it to melt, you can also add warm water to it to melt faster, just make sure to measure the amount of water you are adding and then subtract that from the total amount at the end.

Once the snow melts, you’ll want to measure the water left in the jar. This shows how much water content is in the snow.


A snow ratio is how much water would there be if you melted the snow. The old saying was on average for every 10 inches of snow, that would equal an inch of water (10:1). However, there are a lot of factors that can adjust the ratio.

To start off, remember that the higher the ratio, that means you’ll need more snow to fall to equal one inch of rain. Some factors that can drastically change the snow ratio, is the depth of a warm layer of air from the ground to the cloud. The closer this layer is to the freezing mark of 32 degrees, the lower the ratio will be.

If there is more super-cooled water droplets in a cloud, the ratio will be lower. The ratio could be higher if the could contains more ice crystals. Wind can also break up the snowflakes falling and lead to higher ratios. Also, it will take more snowfall to equal an inch of water if the air temperature is very cold.

A mixed precipitation event will lead to more water content in the snow, compared to just regular snowfall.

Tune in to WTAJ Plus for more Science with Shields experiments you can try at home.

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