How Do Meteorologists Measure Snowfall and What Do Meteorologists Use To Measure Rainfall?

The measurement of rainfall is fairly straightforward, but snowfall presents problems that make measurements somewhat arbitrary.

For rain, the meteorology department at Pennsylvania State uses a simple cylindrical tube to catch it.

The amount that falls in a given period is poured into a smaller cylindrical tube that is carefully gradated and measured with something like a dipstick.

Many things can affect the depth of snow, especially wind and how frequently it is measured, both during and after a storm.

Because the weight of the falling snow packs down what is underneath, it might compact from 10 inches to 8 inches as air holes fill in.

The National Weather Service guidelines call for using a snowboard, a board exposed to catch snow, with the accumulation measured every hour through the storm and then brushed off, a time-consuming method.

Meteorologists at Penn State seek an average reading from ten different points after the snow stops.