Measuring snowfall is very important. Thousands of snow enthusiasts come out every year to see their surroundings turn into a ‘white heaven’ of winter. It’s even more fun in knowing the amount of accumulated snow that gathers in your area each year, but arriving at the right or official measurement is not always as easy as many people think.

Below are laid down rules and tips weather observers follow to ensure accurate snow measurement.

Get a snowboard

white board on the snow with stakes on either side

Snowboard Image Source: NOAA

A snowboard is one of the essential tools weather specialists used in measuring snowfall. A snowboard refers to a painted piece of plywood (preferably white) measuring about 2 feet by 2 feet. The board acts as a surface for collecting snow. In this case, you are to choose an excellent location that is far away from buildings, trees, and shadows. Stay away from areas that are prone to drifting. Place your snowboard and mark the location with something like a stake so you can easily find it after a fresh snowfall.

Take measure at the appropriate time

The particular time reports of the day snow are measured is 7 a.m. local standard time.  Officially, snowfall is measured to the closest tenth of an inch.  However, an accumulated snow measurement taking during this time may not constitute accurate data. For example, assuming snowfall stops at and the observer decided to wait and take measurement 7 am the following day, the snow would have settled down, melted a lot, and drift. As such, the analysis won’t be accurate.  Snow must be measured and clear off snowboard promptly at the end of every snow occurrence, and the total amount reported at 7 am of the observation time.

clearing off the white snowboard

Source: NOAA

Furthermore, you can take an hourly measurement of snowfall rate, but you mustn’t clean off your board each hour, and you mustn’t measure more than 4 times in 24 hours. You are to clean off your board only when you take one of the 4 daily measurements. Immediately the snow ends, add together the various measurements from each from each clean-off to arrive at a storm total.

 Measure snow depth

The level of snow depth on the ground includes new and old snow which has been in place. Choose several locations within your yard to measure the snow depth which hasn’t drifted yet or blown away. Once done, take an average of these measurements to get the snow depth.

When carrying out this process, make sure your ruler gets down to the underlying ground because old snow can prove difficult and crusty under the new snow. Snow depth is measured to the nearest inch.

Using a measuring stick to measure snow

ruler in the snow for measuring

Source: William F. Yurasko via Flickr

Look for an excellent location where the snow seems to be at its average depth. Make sure you stay off valleys and drifts, and look or a flat, open area with reasonable distance away from trees and homes. Now, measure the depth using the measuring stick (or the household ruler) pin-pointed at several locations and never forget to use an average. Conventionally, 10 measurements are made, and the average value is defined as the snow depth.


Getting the most accurate snow measurement largely depends on complying with relevant observers and meteorology rules. Once you can follow the right guidelines as listed here, you should be able to obtain the snowfall total at your leisure.

Image Resource: Featured Image Source

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