Observing the Elusive Intermittent Snow Using Traffic Camera Images

TitleObserving the Elusive Intermittent Snow Using Traffic Camera Images
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2013
AuthorsWayand, Nicholas, and Lundquist Jessica
Conference Name81st Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the Western Snow Conference
Date Published2013
Conference LocationJackson Hole, Wyooming
Keywordsintermittent snow, rain-on-snow, remote sensing, traffic cameras

Intermittent snow covers a majority of the western U.S. and is known to have contributed to rain-on-snow type floods. Quantifying the elevational contributions of melt water during such events is hampered from a critical lack of observations of the lowest snow extent. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard Terra and Aqua offers the best available compromise of sampling and resolution to capture intermittent snow’s spatio-temporal snow cover variations over mid-latitudes. However, twice daily images from MODIS are significantly limited by cloud cover that may obscure rapidly melting snowcover; a critical model initialization state for flood forecasting models. In this study, we approach the question of quantifying the snowmelt contribution through an idealized simulation, followed by a comparison of the current available observations of intermittent snowcover.