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No More Snow Measurements

Unfortunately, I have decided to discontinue snow measurements. Last winter finally persuaded me of the limits of collecting and tabulating daily snowfall — even on a double city lot. The wind eddies around nearby structures result in huge drifts when winds gust upwards of 40 mph. As Marquetters know, this is an all too common event in the winter, particularly when storms come off Lake Superior. It then becomes very difficult or even impossible to separate drifted from newly fallen snow. Sometimes the snow boards are simply blown clean. Taking measurements from multiple locations won’t improve matters when everywhere around is subject to the same forces.

I received a fair bit of criticism last winter for my “low” snow totals. The reality is I reported what was on my snow boards after the wind had its say. Or I would reconstruct a snow event based on what my manual gauge (4 ft off the ground) would catch in terms of melted precipitation based on the known ratio of snow to liquid for that event. The elevated gauge is affected more by wind than the ground-level snow boards. Altogether I’d say, on the whole, I tended to under measure snow when I was in doubt.

Additionally, it’s very difficult for one person to measure snow every day of the winter without fail. While my wife can assist with melted snow, she is not in the position to collect and measure snow that falls on the snow board(s). If I am sick, injured or traveling then the daily/monthly/seasonal snow total will be inaccurate. So far that hasn’t happened, but only because I’ve been extremely fortunate.

In any event, I will continue to publish liquid equivalent (melted snow and rain) totals for all precipitation during the winter. That will, as always, appear on the History page in the Precipitation tab under the “Liquid” column for each table.

I apologize to those who have grown accustomed to or even looked forward to the daily snow reports. You can check the NOAA NOWData site for the Marquette COOP station’s measurements. Another resource for checking that data, oddly enough, is the Iowa Environmental Mesonet (run by Iowa State University). You may find this easier to use, especially now that the gov’t site is experiencing budget issues. Be aware that the city’s official weather station can allow several days to elapse between updates although measurements are performed daily at the Water Treatment facility on Lakeshore Blvd.

Here’s hoping the snow piles are manageable this winter. That’s about all we can hope, eh?

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UPDATE 11/8/19: During significant snowfall events and/or as conditions permit, I may report measurements informally on the website and social media. These reports will not, however, be entered into the station’s records (and thus will not appear on the weather history page).

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