Good News/Bad News
The Good News
Several of you have been asking what is happening to the snow data you are
entering. It appeared as though it was entered and just disappeared.
That was not the case of course. When you entered it, it was going into
the database but there was previously no web page to display the
information. Well now there is Ö sorta.
In the Reports section, there is now a new options for New Snow. I want
to do more with it but just having this available has pointed out the next
The Bad News
Now that there is a way to look at the data, it has become very obvious
that we still need a LOT of training on how to measure and enter snow
data. All of you that have experienced measuring snow already know it is
more complex, confusing, and time consuming than just measuring
precipitation in the form of rain. But that certainly doesnít mean we can't
learn how to do it right. Please donít get discouraged that it is a
little more of a challenge. There really isnít much snow data available
for Nebraska so once we start getting it right, this will become very
valuable and interesting.
First, I see that I need to do a lot of work on the quality control phase
for the data entry form. As you look over the data, you will see all
sorts of input data formats in the three new snow fields. In fact, I see
there are even several entries for snow during the months of May through
September. I would guess that most of those early entries are not valid
so Iíll have to go through and edit out what are obviously incorrect
entries and try to make assumptions on those where I can make a good
reasonable guess as to what they should be.
I also need to add programming to the web page to make sure only valid
entries go into the database in the future. Donít be surprised if you
had entered something like '1/2', '4 ??', or '1 inch' earlier but later
that no longer works. Iíll try to put checks into the programming to stop
entry errors like this before they get into the database.
Another item needed is to improve the reports for snow and develop mapping
capabilities to provide a better visual presentation but I canít do that
until we can make sure all the data going into the database is in the
We also all need better training on how to measure snow and what is
supposed to go into each field on the form. I recently obtained a DVD
from the High Plains Regional Climate Center entitled ďMeasuring SnowĒ and
it really does a nice job of showing how all of this should be done. They
explain some of the problems you will run into and what to do about them.
I wish everyone would have the opportunity to view this but I have made
copies and just today sent them out to all of the Regional Coordinators.
At least now when you have questions, we will be able to answer more
I will also try to send out further instructions on the measuring process
soon. Now that most of us have been through a snowfall or two, we at
least have a better idea of what problems may arise.
Be sure to re-read the Help File on Measuring Snow at:
http://nerain.dnr.ne.gov/NeRAIN/docs/snow.asp but here is a brief
synopsis of what should go in each field. In the near future, Iíll add
Total Precipitation: By now everyone should have their funnel and inner
tube removed and inside because those will break in freezing rain. The
snow that is trapped in the outer tube should be melted down and then
poured through the funnel into the inner tube. At this point, it is just
like the rain you have always been measuring and is entered in hundredths
(0.23 for example).
New Snow: This can be measured several times a day during a storm and
totaled up if you have the opportunity but just enter the information once
at your normal 7:00 AM time slot. The reason for measuring more often is
snow melts and settles so the more often you measure, the more likely you
are to measure the maximum amount. Just measure this with a ruler
(ideally on a snowboard or other hard surface) and record only to the
nearest half inch (4.5 for example). You may have to measure in several
places and average the results when you have blowing and drifting snow.
This should just be the snow that has accumulated in the last 24-hour
Total Depth of Snow: The purpose of this field is to measure the total
snow that is still on the ground from not only the previous 24 hours but
also all previous snowfalls. Just measure the snow with your ruler at
various locations so you can get representative samples around your area
and enter the average. Yes, you may have none in some locations and five
foot drifts in others but just give it your best shot at an average
converted to inches (12 inches per foot) and enter to the nearest half
inch. You may end up with a number like 29.5 to represent two feet five
and one half inch.
Core Precipitation: This is just another way to measure the total
precipitation but donít be surprised to get significantly different
results due to blowing and drifting snow. Turn your outer tube upside
down and press it through the snow onto the snowboard. Then holding the
outer tube and the bottom of the snowboard, turn it right side up so the
snow is trapped in the outer tube. Now melt this down just like you do
for the Total Precipitation and enter the results in hundredths (0.37 for
As mentioned earlier, more information can be found at:
http://nerain.dnr.ne.gov/NeRAIN/docs/snow.asp. While measuring and
entering snow data does take a bit more effort, the results will certainly
be useful for the citizens of Nebraska and your efforts are appreciated.
Thanks again for volunteering for NeRAIN.
Nebraska Department of Natural Resources
301 Centennial Mall South
P.O. Box 94676
Lincoln, NE 68509-4676