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.
January 27, 2016
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 is 17.8 inches. The level 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. 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, 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 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."
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it difficult to measure snow?
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