Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November Snow

Winter weather has come early to the lower 48 states this year.  First there was the heavy snow in the Appalachians associated with Sandy, and then heavy snow in New Jersey and southern New England with the nor'easter the following week. While attention has been focused on the east, snow has been falling with some regularity in the western U.S. In fact, snow cover across the northwestern quarter of the lower 48 states is above normal for this time of year.

There are a number of online resources for following snowfall across the U.S., and in fact across the northern hemisphere.  The National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center website has an entire suite of products dedicated to monitoring snowfall, snow depth, and related measurements across the U.S.  Here is the depiction of snow depth across the U.S. as of this morning. This map is based on modeled snow pack characteristics updated each day using all available ground, airborne and satellite observations.  Note that the model analysis can be off in places. For example, the snow depicted in central and northwestern Illinois is overdone, and may be just a trace in a few spots.

 The NOAA U.S. National Ice Center also monitors ice and snow cover across North America and the Northern Hemisphere. This analysis shows only where snow is on the ground, and does not show snow depth.

For a view of the Northern Hemisphere in somewhat more detail, the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab provides a suite of charts and graphs that monitors snow cover. A nice feature of the Global Snow Lab are the snow climatology maps and the departure maps, which show where snow cover is above or below normal as of a certain date. Note that like the National Ice Center maps, these maps depict the extent of snow cover and do not provide any information on snow depth.

Maps from the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab for November 13, 2012

Of course, last but not least are CoCoRaHS maps. The national map from Tuesday morning clearly shows snow on the ground in the west as well as the upper Midwest and northeast..

 The greatest snow depths on the CoCoRaHS maps were found just east of Salt Lake City, where 7 to 13 inches of snow covered the ground as of Tuesday morning.

Snowfall and snow depth measurements from CoCoRaHS observers are needed and used by variety of people monitoring snow across the country from the National Weather Service to municipalities to snow removal services. Now is the time to review and refresh yourself on snow measurement procedures. The snow measurement training program is available on the CoCoRaHS web site, and the Snow Measurement webinar video is available on YouTube.

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