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Weather Talk: It's very hard to measure snow in a blizzard

The snow that falls in a blizzard is a lot harder to measure than snow that falls straight down. The location of the measurement is critical. You get too much if you are downwind of a large, flat roof. You get too little if you are downwind from a big tree. In the right location, sheltered but not too sheltered, it is still necessary to make many, many measurements to account for drifting. Last Thursday's snowfall measurement of 0.8 of an inch seemed too low to many people who shoveled deeper snow accumulations. But the snow that falls on a sidewalk or driveway has essentially fallen into a valley and collected. A look around the yard would have revealed huge areas of old, crusty snow with no new snow on it. Measuring snow in a blizzard is not easy and is, at best, an estimate. But the official measurement for Fargo Moorhead is made by someone with considerable experience and training.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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