So Just How Much Snow?

The actual measurement of snowfall is not exact.

We tend to get these question every year, but this year has seen more attention to snow amounts and depths than past years.  Why?

In part, it's because of a revision in policy that the National Weather Service has made for this winter weather season.  In layman's terms, the criteria for issuing a Winter Storm Watch or Warning or advisory has been lowered.  This means, with less snowfall expected, more serious sounding announcements are issued.

It may not mean that the season is any worse than past years... just that more and worse sounding announcements are being issued.

It wouldn't do for a broadcast station to disagree with this practice, and to think of NOT RELAYING such a bulletin is unthinkable.

But the end result is that the public gets more worked up over lesser amounts of snow.

HOW snow is measured is another area of confusion.

There is no "official" snow measurement location for Parkersburg.  But throughout the region, reports are generated by volunteers, trained observers and a handful of government locations.

The result SHOULD be a smooth and even progression from the lesser amounts through the region to the highest amounts.  But so many factors influence snowfall accumulation, that arguments develop even before the snow is on the ground.

This last big round of snowfall saw rain, rain, rain come pouring down in Parkersburg on Friday afternoon and early evening.  But it had turned over to snowfall just outside the city limits much earlier than inside the city.  As a result, snowfall began to stack up outside the city earlier, and inside the city, not as much.

The "official" report in the tabulation of regional snowfall on Saturday noontime was only TWO INCHES in Parkersburg. But anyone who lives outside the downtown area would immediately take issue with that.

Just down the road, Pennsboro reported 8 inches, and Walker 7 inches.

So what's the truth?

You can always go outside yourself, and dip a ruler into the snow to check your local conditions.  But the best way to do this is to dip and measure the snow in ten different places, add it all up, and then divide by 10.  That average amount is a better representation than just one random dip in the snow that may or may not be in a snow drift or in the lee of a tree or house.

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