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

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 was 17.8 inches. The level falls short compared with some other spots in the region and raises a question. Why the difference?
 
The improvised technique used by a small team of weather observers at Reagan National Airport lost their snow-measuring device to the elements. That happened 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. Those records are based on accumulations. It prompted 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 decide whether additional help 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. He said 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."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it difficult to measure snow?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (38)
  • jennaw-1-bar
    1/28/2016 - 10:15 p.m.

    it is difficult to measure snow because during the process of snowing there is usually a storm, wind, fastly moving objects, end it makes it extremely hard for the w end it makes it extremely hard for the scientist to figure out the exact amount of snow there was. Plus with the wind blowing it can't blow down the snow in when it blows down the snow it can lower the actual true amount of how much snow there was

  • kevine-4-bar
    1/28/2016 - 10:55 p.m.

    Measuring snow is difficult because you put the device on the ground and if it is a harsh snow storm then it could cover the tool or blow it away.

  • annag-4-bar
    1/28/2016 - 10:59 p.m.

    It is difficult to measure snow because the inches of snow measurement can vary significantly even within a few feet of each other due to drifting, compaction of the snow over time, snow blowing off elevated surface to the ground, and the surface on which the snow accumulates. "Everyone has to understand that measuring snow in a blizzard is a tough thing to do," said Richard. "We would like it to be as accurate as possible," he said. "But it's an inexact science." I chose this article because I am interested in snow and I wish that it snowed here.

  • markm-3-bar
    1/28/2016 - 11:01 p.m.

    It is difficult to measure snow because there are different elements that can affect it like wind or wetness. The people in this lost their snow measuring device to the elements. This interested me because I like snow a lot and I always go snowboarding, and when I go I always check the snow report to see if I'm going to be riding in the pow which is pretty sick.

  • madelinew-1-bar
    1/28/2016 - 11:24 p.m.

    It can be difficult to measure snow. If you're trying to measure if in a blizzard, chances are that you won't succeed at getting an accurate amount. This is because the device can break, as said in paragraph 3.
    I like this article. I know how awful snow storms and blizzards can be awful, I wish I could live by a snowy area.

  • sofiat-4-bar
    1/28/2016 - 11:26 p.m.

    It is difficult to measure snow because snow will start and then stop and some may melt but also "The level falls short compared with some other spots in the region." I think this is interesting because if the snow really is that deep then how will they be able to send help.

  • kayleeu-2-bar
    1/29/2016 - 12:22 a.m.

    It is difficult to measure snow because of the tough storms and elements. In Washington a "small team of weather observers at Reagan National Airport lost their snow-measuring device to the elements." They lost there device mid way through the storm making the snow measurement inconclusive. As Mark Richards a senior weather observer said "Everyone has to understand that measuring snow in a blizzard is a tough thing to do."

    My opinion on this article is that it must be annoying that their technology stopped half way through a major storm.

  • ericw-6-bar
    1/29/2016 - 12:50 a.m.

    It is difficult to measure snow because of the money to buy technology. If the technology gets lost in the snow and then they buy more and it gets lost in the snow and so on it could be millions of dollars on equipment that people are buying with no informational satisfaction.

  • paigea-3-bar
    1/29/2016 - 12:52 a.m.

    It is difficult to measure snow because there is a different amount of snow wherever you go. Also, new sheets of snow could be added every minute so the amount of snow will always be changing. The article states,"According to The Washington Post, the number that will go down in the history books was 17.8 inches. The level falls short compared with some other spots in the region and raises a question." This means that there will be different amounts of snow almost anywhere you go. I enjoyed this article and I have never really thought about how hard it is to measure snow, but this article has really made me realize how difficult it is.

  • gabriellek-1-bar
    1/29/2016 - 01:20 a.m.

    It is difficult to measure snow because in a blizzard, your visibility is limited and the snow is being constantly blown around by wind. It is very hard to measure moving objects and in some places snow is falling faster than others causing different amounts of snow. I found this article interesting because I always wondered how they measured snow precisely. This article surprised me because I did not know that Washington got 17.8 inches of snow.

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