Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mystery of the Month - March

Snow = water
An inch of snow is followed by a 5-7 inch snowstorm, which is followed by 4 hours of freezing drizzle. Patterns like this go on and on through winter.  What are we talking about for total inches of water as the spring thaw begins (and stops and begins again) this year?

As Minnesotans we know the drill, as spring gets closer, temperatures get higher and snow starts to melt. Recently the Water Quality crew went out to check the water equivalent of the snow. We are trying to figure out the amount of water that is in the snow. This gives us an early idea about the chances of flooding in the District. We did the test two weeks ago before the recent warm temperatures. 

At that time we found that there was about 4 to 4.5 inches of water in the snow pack. That is like getting a 4-4.5 inch rain storm. But thankfully the melt (usually) happens slower than a large rain storm because with warm days but below freezing nights, the process slows.

Do it Yourself (DIY) Snow Gauge - It’s easy to try this at home 

  1.  Get two 5 gallon buckets with straight sides

  2.  Cut out the bottom of one of them

  3.  Find snow that hasn’t been disturbed

  4.  Place the bucket with the hole in it, into the snow all the way to the ground

  5.  Shovel the snow out of there, into the other bucket

  6.  Let the snow melt and then measure how deep the water is.

Or take a look at a map of snow water equivalents across the country.


Look for the Tab marked Select Physical Element
Then Select Snow Water Equivalent

Let us know what you get!

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