In Elmira, snowfall is measured at an average of 40.1 inches per year. Since November 2021, the total amount in Elmira has been measured at about 34 inches, roughly 6 inches below average. Measuring snowfall is a little harder and takes more time than rainfall, but it is well worth it. In fact, anyone with a rain gauge and a snowboard can help out during the winter.

For snow measurements to be accurate as possible, a flat, white snowboard that is one half to three quarters inches thick and has an area of 16″ by 16″ is helpful. For measuring the water content of snow, a precipitation gauge, typically 4″ in diameter, can be used. This type of gauge works well with snowfall amounts up to about 6 to 8 inches, especially if winds are light. In windy conditions, special instructions may be needed as it could affect the accuracy of one’s readings.

There are three different types of measurements that can be done in the winter. To measure snowfall only, a flat surface like a snowboard as well as a ruler is necessary to measure the height of the accumulated snowfall. To measure the liquid equivalent of snowfall, a rain gauge can be used to measure snow that has fallen into the gauge and has been melted down. To measure the liquid equivalent of snowfall from a “core measurement” using a rain gauge and snowboard, turn the rain gauge upside-down and place the outer cylinder into the accumulated snowfall until the rim touches the snowboard. Turn the snowboard upside-down and slide the gauge off to the side while keeping the core sample of snow in the gauge. Melt and measure this snow core to get the liquid equivalent measurement.

More information on how to measure snowfall can be found on the website for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, or CoCoRaHS for short. Information on how to join CoCoRaHS and how to enter measurements online can also be found on the website.