Snow Gauge Facts

Snow Gauge Facts
A snow gauge is a tool that hydrologists and meteorologists use to measure the amount of snow (or solid precipitation) that falls over a specific amount of time. The snow gauge is a derivative of the rain gauge which was invented in 1441 during the Joseon Dynasty and called the Cheugugi. The simplest design of a snow gauge is made up of a catchment container and a funnel shaped gauge which are mounted on a pipe outside. Once the snow has been collected it is removed from the pipe and melted and measured in a graduate container. The amount of water is usually multiplied by 10 to determine snow depth. Because of the variance in the water content of snow the multiplying factor can vary greatly from 5 to as high as 30. Snow gauges are only able to provide rough estimates of snowfall for this reason.
Interesting Snow Gauge Facts:
If rain and snow are collected in a snow gauge the measurement of snowfall accumulation will be incorrect. The observer must be able to determine how much is rain and how much is snow in order to provide a rough estimate of snowfall.
Aside from the simple snow gauge consisting of a catchment container and funnel gauge there are other more modern versions including the automated snow gauge and the snow pillow.
The automated snow gauge is most often used by weather stations. They work very similar to the way a rain gauge works. An automated snow gauge has a large catchment area that collects snow until a particular weight is achieved. Once the weight has been reached it tips over and dumps the snow into a snow catch. Some are heated to provide a more accurate measurement of snow weight.
A snow pillow snow gauge looks just like a round bag on the ground. It is commonly filled with antifreeze. Snow pillows are connected to manometers. The manometer is able to detect how much snow sits atop the snow pillow. Although the snow pillow is effective and accurate in many locations it will not provide very accurate results if the snow is blowing a lot.
It is easier and more accurate results can be achieved when measuring rainfall because snow is unreliable in its behaviour. Snow can stick to the top or sides of a snow gauge and result in less snow being accumulated than is actually falling because it blocks snow from entering the catchment container.
Another reason that snow gauges are not as accurate as rain gauges is because the snow may blow around instead of landing in the catchment container.
Blizzards can result in too much snow being blown into the catchment container which can then over-estimating the amount of snowfall.
Copper is often the metal used for snow gauge catchment containers.
A new snow gauge was developed in recent years by the National Weather Service. It consists of two plates insulated from each other. One faces upwards and the other faces downwards. The difference in power required to heat the plates provides the data used to determine the amount of snowfall.

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