Monday, December 6, 2010

Cool New Snow Analysis Products from the NWS

The National Weather Service has introduced several cool new tools to analyse snowfall data this season.  Unfortunately (for me) I'm not in an area that experiences snowfall.  (If we have a few flurries in January they're calling out the sand trucks here in South Texas).  But for those of you who do experience snow events, these tools may come in handy, or if nothing else may just be of interest to you.

You can go to the site by clicking on the "snowfall data" hyperlink in the first paragraph.  Here are a few sample screenshots taken from the site this morning.  First shows the current snow depth across the nation:

This next one shows the water equivalent of that snowfall:

There are numerous other fields/parameters that you can examine on the site, but the last one I'll show here is kind of interesting, which depicts the average temperature of the snowpack (this can be useful in helping to forecast both high and low temperatures in and near the region for many days after a snow event):

If you want to get a detailed analysis of snow statistics at a particular site, you can also do that by accessing the "station information" located at the bottom of the main page.  For example, the data below were pulled for Christiansburg, VA through 06:00 GMT this morning, 12/6/10 (click to enlarge):

There are many other graphic variables that can be examined for each site, and you can also enter specific site location identifiers, latitude/longitude, etc. to examine the data from a given area.

The above products are generated by the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC - thank goodness for that!), a division of the National Weather Service.  The unit is based in Minneapolis, MN, where they know a thing or two about snowfall.

They use various combinations of ground truth reports (including examination by air) and high resolution satellite data to produce the products.  You can learn more about the processes and technologies that are utilized here.

As we proceed through the winter season, I'll attempt to make some real time event posts utilizing some of the data so you can see how it can be applied in a given situation.

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