Can’t Trust Them

You can’t trust news reports nowadays.  There used to be a day when journalism meant checking your data and being unbiased.  Not any more, and it extends into the weather.

I was driving home from Walmart listening to the Drive 100.5 (a local radio station) when the weather guy says something to the effect, “This has been the snowiest December in recorded history.  Rochester has received 42 inches of snow this month.”

I’m thinking to myself, “Really?  It has snowed a lot, but I don’t think we have got that much.  Although, it has been cold.”

So, after the evening quieted down, I went on to check out what the actual snow fall has been.  (I have learned that our eyes deceive us when it comes to snowfall.  We often see drifts, or stockpiles of snow, and think that is the depth.  In fact, on 12/16/2010 as we were driving to the Rochester Airport, I pointed out to Elizabethe that many lawns have blades of grass sticking up which means it really isn’t all that deep.)  I started with today and worked my way backwards.  I got to the day before leaving for Salt Lake, and it was less than 2″.  Then, I checked the month-to-date figures for the Rochester area.  10 inches. 

That’s right, we have received a total of 10 inches thus far in December.  So, where does this guy on the Drive come up with 42 inches?  Maybe in Buffalo, or some strange remote point near the lake. 

Anyway, I’ve written The Drive off.  Besides, their morning D.J. is a real work and only gets my blood pressure up with his moronic liberal comments. 

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’ve been wondering how they actually measure snow fall.

It used to be they had a 16″x16″ board called a “snow board.  What was left on that board was the snow depth.  After taking a measurement, they would wipe the board clean and start again.   The problem was wind would blow the snow off.  Next, they went to random stick pokes in the ground, and then averaged it.  The problem here is it is subjective to where they poked their ruler.  Now they collect snow in a cylinder and as it falls into the cylinder it is melted.  The rule of thumb is 1″ of melt is 10” of snow.  This method allows for remote collection as they have automated devices that collect and measure. 

There you have it.

Of course, before we moved to Palmyra, someone commented to Elizabethe that they have seen the poles they put on fire hydrants here, and the snow gets 5′ deep.  Elizabethe had to explain that those poles are tall because the snow plows may pile the snow up and over the hydrants, and they need to see where they are.

Oh, and if you watch my Season Watch page, you’ll get local observations.