Snow Measuring Made Easy

The National Weather Serivce in Grand Rapids greatly appreciates your storm and snow reports. That being said we understand that measuring snow in lower Michigan can be a challenge at times whether it is a lake effect snow event or a storm that brings its own wind and moisture with it.  There are certain standards that never change when measuring snow such as using a ruler/yardstick to measure 24 hour snowfall to the nearest tenth of an inch.  It looks like this T (trace for any snow that fell that does not equal or exceed 0.1inch. An example of other readings are 0.1, 0.9, 10.4 inches. Other good policies are to take 10 measurements around the area and then create an average from the readings.

Another way is to use a snowboard. A snowboard is a piece of plywood type of wood at least 2 by 2 or 3 by 3 feet in width. The are also PVC plastic boards available. The wood board needs to be painted white so it does not absorb heat from the sun even on cloudy days. The snowboard is kept in a representative area with a measurement taken at least every 24 hours. Every six hours is also acceptable but the closer together you make your measurements the less accurate they become as there should be settling and packing of the snow over time. To help you get a better look at your snow depth you can add legs to your snow board by screwing 4 18-24 inch 2x4 legs onto it. It's also a big help for those folks that cannot bend over very far. Once the measurement is made, you then sweep off your board after each reading and add them together to make a 24 hour total. 

If you have storm totals or 24 hour totals you are welcome to share them with the Grand Rapids NWS office by using our spotter form online


Here is a link to more in depth and wide ranging slide show training from the people at CoCoRaHS, your community based weather observing network.

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