How much did it snow? We'll never know.
How much did it snow? We'll never know. Workers remove snow on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan National Airport, with the U.S. Capitol dome seen behind, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016 in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
How much did it snow? We'll never know.
Lexile: 1190L

Assign to Google Classroom

There was definitely a lot of snow in Washington, but just how much may never really be known.
According to The Washington Post, the number that will go down in the history books as Washington's official total, 17.8 inches, falls short compared with some other spots in the region, raising the question: Why the disparity?
The improvised technique used by a small team of weather observers at Reagan National Airport lost their snow-measuring device to the elements midway through the blizzard.
The mix-up may have kept the blizzard of 2016 from breaking into the region's top three snowstorms on record, based on accumulations, prompting the National Weather Service to announce that it will be looking into the procedures used at Reagan National.
The National Weather Service has clear guidelines on how to measure snowfall for one simple reason: How much snow falls may determine whether additional relief is sent into a location after a major storm.
On Jan. 24, the senior weather observer at National, Mark Richards, stood by the accuracy of the reading, saying his team did the best it could under tough conditions.
"Everyone has to understand that measuring snow in a blizzard is a tough thing to do," Richards said. "We would like it to be as accurate as possible," he said. "But it's an inexact science."

Source URL:

Filed Under:  
Assigned 18 times
Why is it difficult to measure snow?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • nathaenw-
    1/29/2016 - 08:32 a.m.

    Why is it difficult to measure snow? It is difficult to measure snow because of many reasons. One reason is that you might lose the snow measuring device to the elements when it's snowing, like the people at Reagan Natl. Airport. Another reason it is difficult is that the National Weather Service has specific guidelines on how you have to measure snowfall and it may be hard at times to follow those exactly. Finally, as they said in the last paragraph, "Everyone has to understand that measuring snow in a blizzard is a tough thing to do." This would be true because of poor visibility and the wind also affecting it.

  • christopherm-mea
    1/29/2016 - 10:12 a.m.

    Snow is difficult to measure primarily due to its inconsistency. Not only may accumulations be drastically different over a small area, but changes in weather and temperature can cause the snow to melt or freeze, affecting the accuracy of measurements considerably. It would be even more difficult to measure snow during a blizzard, since the constant downpour and blowing wind will cause snow levels to fluctuate erratically. The only way to obtain a perfectly accurate measurement of snowfall would be to do so during ideal weather conditions immediately after the snow has fallen.

  • nicolel-mea
    1/29/2016 - 01:26 p.m.

    its difficult to measure snow because it can melt, move, and get higher. it can me difficult because the measuring sick can get burried

  • dianner-2-bar
    1/29/2016 - 08:23 p.m.

    It is difficult to measure snow because just as the article had stated that there was a blizzard and there measuring instruments got in the snow some where.
    This article was kind of hard to consume because i mean they had to have like back ups and they didn't which is one thing that really surprised me.

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    1/31/2016 - 05:15 p.m.

    I don't understand why they could not have gone out and replaced the measuring device. If its such a big deal to measure the snow, then shouldn't the snow measuring device be excellent?

  • briannec-ste
    2/05/2016 - 09:41 p.m.

    It is difficult to measure snow because the snow is always moving and blowing around, they would need to be in perfect placement to get an exact amount.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    3/06/2016 - 09:18 p.m.

    It's difficult to measure snow because the snow accumulation in one area may differ from that in another area, even if they are located near each other. Snow may have drifted in some places and been moved in others, making it hard to measure it accurately. Also, when one must measure snow and state that it is the amount that fell in a specific region, that number will not match all places in the region because it is an average, taking all the varied numbers into consideration.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment