Monday, February 09, 2015

Aerial Snow Surveys - NWS NOHRSC - Winter 2015 (#2)

A few days after the lake-effect snow storm that ocurred the week before Thanksgiving 2014 I first learned about aerial snow surveys. These aerial snow surveys are overseen by the National Weather Service's National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center  (NOHRSC).I wrote about the aerial snow surveys in an article I posted on November 24, 2014. I am still learning about the science of these snow surveys, which fascinates me. I am still learning, so I am not exactly in the postion to speak to the science.

But I am interested in what snow NOHRSC has done this winter. As I have interests in New England where the southern areas have seen significant amounts of snow this winter, I went to the NOHRSC snow survey page and saw a list of snow surveys conducted to date during the 2014-2015 winter. There are links for snow surveys done to date. I should note that for those of you who might be arriving at this article after this winter is over, I am not certain how long the 2014-2015 snow survey information is available. 

You might see snow surveys done in or near your State or other States that are of interest. I am going to use the example of aerial snow surveys done in New England and portions of New York (for the Northeast River Forecast Center (NERFC). So I click on the link for NERFC Snow Survey, and land on the 2015 NERFC Snow Survey Page. The aircraft fly certain pre-determined flight lines, you may see the flight lines for New England and portions of New York on this map. There is other information on this page which is used in determing snow water equivalent measurements (a measurement of the amount of water in the snow if the snow is completely melted, see the NOHRSC glossary on the NOHRSC help page. I am interested in aerial photography and am also interested in the flight lines flown on the survey. So, I am going to focus here on the digital aerial photographs taken on these flights. I found the photos fun to look at and I thought that some of you might enjoy these photos.

I followed a link for aerial survey photos that I found on the top left corner of the 2015 NERFC Snow Survey Page  where I landed on a page of several photos taken on the NERFC Snow Survey (#11). I was interested in exactly where these photos were taken, and I was not disappointed. NOHRSC very nicely included a kmz file containing the photos with the esact location where the photo is taken that I could download and read in Google Earth.  Photos are taken from 500 to 1,000 feet above ground level.

I focused here on New England and portions of New York. As I write this, portions of Ohio and Pennsylvania, Montana, Wisconsin and Michigan have been surveyed in NOHRSC's snow survey program. And as the winter goes on, other states will be surveyed as well. If I am in a position to write a little more about the science of the snow surveys, I'll write a follow-up article or two. 

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