Explaining the odd snow totals this year - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Explaining the odd snow totals this year

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For you weather junkies out there tracking the snow total numbers, you may be in for some disappointment this season.

From this point on and until further notice all measurements for snow - whether for a specific snowstorm or total accumulation for the season to date or current snow depth - will be estimates and UN-official.

As of now the National Weather Service, who is responsible for the official measurements, no longer has an arrangement with anyone at the South Bend Regional Airport to do the measuring.  The relationship that had existed for many years came to an end on Sunday, December 15.

Snowfall readings, it should be pointed out, are the only measurements affected by this.  All the other remaining daily readings are fine. There is located at the airport a remote sensing device called ASOS or Automatic Surface Observation System.  This device is capable of automatically recording and sending on to the current NWS office such measurements as temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction, humidity, sky condition and rainfall amount.  It does this faithfully (well, most of the time) every hour.  It can also calculate the high and low temperature of the day and total amount of daily rainfall.  It cannot, however, measure snowfall.  In spite of all the technical wizardry available today the only way to measure snowfall accurately is the way it's always been done - by literally sticking a ruler into the snowfall itself.  This, of course, requires a human.

Since the National Weather Service office was first inaugurated and originally situated at the airport back in the '40s all official measurements (snow and otherwise) have been taken at the airport.  When the National Weather Service office moved to Syracuse in Kosciusko county about a dozen or so years ago the official measurements did not follow it.  For consistency it is important to keep obtaining the measurements from the same spot so that comparing readings from year to year  remains a comparison of apples to apples and not apples to oranges. 

Without a person at the airport to do the snow measurements, however, the folks in Syracuse have their hands tied and are, for the moment, unable to publish any official snow readings.  So, they are looking for someone(s) who live(s) or spend(s) time near the airport to help them out.  If you or someone you know might like to volunteer please give Sam Lashley at the National Weather Service a call.  His number is 574-834-1104.

What all this means, once again then, is that until this dilemma is resolved everything regarding snow will be an unofficial estimate.

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