Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nuking Snow in North Redfield, NY

We had an unbelievable night last night on the Tug Hill Plateau with the air just full of dendrites and snowfall rates reaching as high as about 4 inches an hour at one point.
Launching a weather balloon in 4 inch/hour snow
An intrepid University of Utah student steels himself for a 15 mile drive to our lowland snow-study site at 1 am.  We are so fortunate to have a big rig for these field programs as they are essential in deep unplowed snow.
One of the challenges we had was that the snow was just exploding in the sky.  Dendrites were everywhere and sticking to everything.  This probably affected the quality of observations collected by some of our automated weather stations that we can't access to clean regularly.  A small coating of snow is no problem, but in this instance, snow got into every hole and cranny, including those not oriented vertically.  That sometimes creates problems.  

Snow coated ultrasonic snow-depth sensor.
Fortunately, we got incredible radar data during the event showing changes in storm structure from Lake Ontario to over the Tug Hill Plateau.  We also got great manual snow measurements and sounding data.  24-h snowfall increased from 10 inches at our site in Sandy Creek at the base of the plateau to 25 inches at our site in North Redfield.  Impressive!  From 7 PM last night to 7 AM this morning, we got 20 inches of snow at our North Redfield site.  

For you snow lovers and geeks out there, below are some photos of our manual snow sampling efforts in Sandy Creek this morning where and when there was a break in the storm.

This is our 6-hour interval board.  The tape displaying this is covered, so we went with a finger-based display of the accumulation period
Being anal retentive, I typically take 2-4 additional measurements on the board rather than relying solely on the mounted stick
For liquid equivalent, we take a core of the snow.  When there is significant accumulation, I like to take a couple of these.  You can see the small pit just to my right where the previous one was taken. 
Isolating the core 
A kitchen spatula can be used for real science and to isolate the column
The column is then weighed, which allows us to determine the water equivalent and
the snow water content


  1. Great case!!

    My dad reports an unexpected 8" as of 3pm in Long Lake. May not be pure lake effect there, but is at least lake enhanced.

  2. Curious to know the snowfall totals as the event unfolds... keep us informed