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by Clara da Silva

Role of Snow

Even a fleeting snow event can be an important factor in watershed hydrology and city planning.  How much snow fell, how long will it last, how rapidly will it melt, how frozen is the ground below, and how the runoff will impact streams are vital considerations for planners.  If a heavy snow on top of a frozen ground will melt rapidly, planners need to be prepared for serious flooding damage.  In contrast a heavy snow, melting over weeks, on top of a porous ground will recharge groundwater.  Winter time replenishment might mean a summer with no fear of water shortage. 


The beautiful view of snow out the window begs the question “How much snow fell?”  The newscaster tells us between 2 and 4 inches of snow and we have an idea of magnitude.  But how does the meteorologist know?




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