Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Going for the Big 100

During the lake-effect storms that we have sampled on the Tug Hill Plateau since the 7th of December, we have recorded 89 inches of snow.  This has come in four periods that we have sampled with all of our observing equipment (we call these "intensive observing periods" or IOPs).  The big event was IOP2, which gave us 47 inches.  The other events have been more modest, but both IOP3 and 4 gave us some very heavy snowfall over shorter periods of 12 hours or less.

Those of you with careful eyes and a quick mind, you might notice that the numbers in the graph above only add up to 88 inches, so where does that extra inch to get to 89 come from?  Well, we are scientists and we do everything using metric.  Our snow measurements are in centimeters.  If you add up all the snow we've measured you get 225 cm, which dividing by 2.54 to convert to inches, gives 88.6 inches, which rounds up to 89.  However, when you break the measurements up into shorter periods, you get the numbers above for the four events, which only adds up to 88.  A nice example of what we call round-off error.

What all this means is that the storm on tap for tomorrow needs to give us 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) of snow to get us to the magic 250 centimeter threshold and 28 centimeters (11 inches) to get us to 253 cm (99.6 inches) for the round up to the magic 100 inch US threshold.  Yes, the life of the meteorologist would be far easier if the US had converted to metric.

Note that the total snowfall in North Redfield so far this month is actually greater than this.  We don't bother measuring snow that isn't lake effect, and we've had some.  Why don't we measure that non-lake-effect snow?  We have quite a bit to do between our IOPs.  In fact, we've been working pretty much nonstop with just a few hours here and there for a break since the beginning of the month.  Then again, it is the greatest job on earth...

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