We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Snow Gauge?

By Darrell Laurant
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Measuring snowfall accurately has always been a problem for meteorologists -- all too often, the snow refuses to cooperate. Unlike rain, which tends to behave similarly under almost all conditions, wet snow may stick to the sides of a snow gauge that employs a funnel-type receptacle. This can cause the snowfall to be unreported while it's happening, and overreported when the frozen precipitation later melts.

Another difficulty is that wind usually flows around the top of a snow gauge, carrying snowflakes with it. So instead of attracting snow at the catch point, a snow gauge can actually repel it. Meanwhile, beyond the gauge, wind-driven snow piles up in some places and leaves almost bare ground in others.

There are several types of snow gauges, the simplest of which is simply a measuring stick secured inside a metal container and anchored to the ground. This works well for casual observers of winter weather, but generally is not accurate enough for meteorologists bent on determining snowfall to a fraction of an inch. Sticking and wind fluctuations are particular problems with this type of snow gauge.

Meteorologists and hydrologists are more likely to use a copper container attached to a funnel shaped gauge. The catch basin is just over 50 inches (51-plus centimeters) in depth, and the snow within it is melted when the basin is full or the snowfall has ended. The snowfall is then arrived at by multiplying the water equivalent times 10.

Some subjectivity still exists with this method, however, especially when precipitation is mixed snow and rain. Similarly, a snow gauge device known as a snow pillow is prone to variations caused by wind. A sensor inside the "pillow" determines how much snow is sitting on top.

Yet another type of snow gauge was developed within the last few years by the National Weather Service, which tested it on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the Denver International airport and sites in Ames, IA and Worthington, MN. It consists of two plates, one facing upward and the one below facing down. They are insulated from each other, and the difference in power required to heat the top plate compared to the bottom plate provides the raw data for determining snowfall.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.