Did you know that we are measuring snow depth using sound waves?
The Milwaukee/Sullivan National Weather Service Office in cooperation with Colorado State University is participating in a national study on the application and feasibility of using ultrasonic sensors to measure snow depth.
These sensors use an acoustic signal that reflects off of a target. In this case, the target is a plastic snowboard. The distance between the sensor and the target is calculated from the signal’s return time. As snow accumulates underneath the sensor, the the signal return time is reduced. This value is then converted into a snow depth. From this information, snowfall amounts as well as snowfall rates can be calculated.
Below are some pictures of the ultrasonic sensors in place at WFO Milwaukee/Sullivan...
Below is a graphic image of the output from the 3 sensors in addition to the manual observations taken. This image will be updated frequently throughout the winter season.
Image last updated 12/7/06 by DRH