Weather Observers Help Determine Snow Totals

When it comes to forecasting snow, the First Alert Forecast Team works hard to answer two important questions. How much snow will fall and when will it start and stop?

One question that many folks ask after the flakes stop flying is; how much snow has fallen?
Believe it or not, it's not as easy to answer that question because of the lack of accurate readings across the state.

In order to get accurate readings on snow, rain, wind and temperature, the National Weather Service employs volunteers for the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program (COOP). We visited Jeff Aborn from Staffordville. He’s been volunteering his time for the National Weather Service for 12 years.

"I don't get paid, it's volunteer, I just love the weather, always have." Jeff Said. Jeff tells us that getting accurate snow and rainfall readings is vital for such things as river forecasts and historical climate data.

"It's important that the numbers aren't inflated, it effects everything, the numbers have to be good.”

When it comes to snow measurements, we asked Jeff to show us just how he does it. He says he makes sure he has his "white board", which is basically a white piece of wood, in an open area, 20 feet from any structures. "You want to make sure there isn't anything in the way to effect the reading,” Jeff said.  The board is white to make sure the snow doesn't melt on contact, darker colors will tend to absorb heat similar to the pavement.

Jeff tells us that he will measure often during a storm and says there are usually some inflated numbers out there from people not properly measuring snow.

The First Alert Forecast team welcomes your accurate snow totals. If you're interested in finding more about how to get good measurements, you can learn more at the National Weather Service.

For more information on the Cooperative Observation Program, click here.

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