How to measure snowfall


As we know, snowfall amounts vary greatly in different areas during a winter storm, even from one side of town to the other. Meteorologists are happy to hear from viewers about snow totals as they are hail and rain reports. It helps give a more accurate forecast of the storm during and after the event. Snowfall measurements are typically more difficult and take a little more time but are extremely important to the scientists and public works officials in your area.

That being said, do you know how to measure snowfall?

1.Find a flat, unsheltered area away from buildings which cause drifts and bare spots.

  •      Avoid snow drifts, areas under trees, and elevated surfaces such as decks. Open areas in the front or back yard work well.
  •      Use a snowboard if possible to make sure you have a flat surface.
  •      Official measurements logged into the National Weather Service records are typically done with a snow board. Basically a square piece of wood, placed flat on the ground.

2. Use a ruler or yard stick

  •      Stick the ruler into the snow until you’ve hit ground/snowboard.
  •      If measuring on grass, stop at top of grass, do not push down to the dirt.

3. Be sure the ruler is perpendicular to the ground.

  •      At eye level, read the measurement.
  •      Take measurement to the nearest tenth if possible. Less than a tenth of an inch is considered a “trace”.

4. Measure in multiple locations and take the average. 3-5 measurements is fine.

5. If using a snowboard for measurements:

  • Wipe board clean to be ready for next measurement.
  • Measure every 6 hours or before snow melts.
  • Add snowfall amounts at each observation time together for event snowfall total.

6. Record your measurements and send reports to your local meteorologists or local National Weather Service office.


If you are interested in recording daily precipitation, visit


Categories: Channel 8 Eyewitness News Weather